October 6, 2010

One Win Away

We're still a bit away, but Monday could be the dawn of a new era: if Caroline Wozniacki wins her match against Petra Kvitova today in Beijing, she'll become #1 in the world, only the twentieth woman to achieve that feat in the Open Era and supplanting Serena Williams, who's held that spot since last November.

Some might argue that, after the year the Dane has had, it should have happened sooner, but these days no one can say she doesn't deserve it. Sure, Serena has been sidelined with a foot injury since Wimbledon and sister Venus, who played only the U.S. Open in the same period, will skip the rest of the year with a knee injury -- you might think Wozniacki hasn't faced the very best.

But here's a telling statistic: the twenty-year-old has compiled a 4-2 record against top-ten players this year. That compares to a 1-3 mark for Serena, who only beat Victoria Azarenka in Melbourne. She's also won five titles to Williams' two -- albeit, both were Majors. They haven't played each other since the Tour championships last year, though, so a true comparison is nearly impossible, but based solely on performance this year, it's hard to make a case against Caro.

Of course the #1 honor isn't hers quite yet -- the last time she met Kvitova at Wimbledon this year, Wozniacki was smacked, 6-2, 6-0 in just forty-six minutes. She is on a better run these days, though -- four of her trophies have come since that loss in July -- so I have a feeling the one-sidedness might be on the opposite side this time.

Players are so often reluctant to discuss the possibility of climbing to the top spot in the rankings, just as they are to talk about any match further in the future than their next one. But you have to think it's been a goal of Wozniacki's all year -- and it can never have felt so close.

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