With Serena Williams out, the 20-year-old Dane Caroline Wozniacki is this year's top seed among the women.
Like with Dinara Safina some time ago, this has not failed to attract notice. A player without a Grand Slam seeded number one?
"Surely, she is not even among the top three or five favorites? She always loses to the tougher players when the going gets tough. She lacks a killer weapon and thus the potential to win a Slam," are common views among Wozniacki critics, myself somewhat included.
Today, she proved us wrong. Today she proved that she can beat a top contender at a Grand Slam event, something she has not done in the past (save a tight three-setter against Kuznetsova at the Open last year, where Kuz blasted herself off court).
Maria Sharapova had far more firepower than Wozniacki and always will have. Heck, only the Williams and Kim Clijsters can match Maria in that department.
But Wozniacki didn't fold, didn't succumb. Instead, she stood her ground and got away with a tight first set.
For periods of the match, Sharapova played almost flawless, world class tennis. Such a period was the beginning of the second set, where she hit 14 winners within the first four games. Result? 2-2.
Why? Wozniacki was 6-1 in winners-UE for the set and simply stood her ground. A couple of games later, there was a dip in Sharapova's high class tennis.
The errors added up and Wozniacki immediately took advantage. She got to the break 4-3, held serve and then had a match point in Maria's serve.
In a fantastic point, Sharapova just managed to reach Wozniacki's passing shot at the net and then go on to hold. Wozniacki was then to serve the match out after a lost match point.
Did she crumble, did she tighten up? Not at all. She played one of her best games of the evening and finished of the match with two straight winners: one volley and then a backhand for the match.
Next up for Caro is Zibulkova followed by Vera Zvonareva, who is, as I write this, beating Petkovic off the court. However, Wozniacki beat her convincing in straight sets three weeks ago.
I say, she's ready to do it again if they meet. Caroline Wozniacki simply looks stronger and faster than ever, now with that added spice that her critics had accused her of lacking: winners.
Against Sharapova she made 16, only half the amount of the tall Russian. But with only 10 UE to go with it against Maria's 36, that won her the match.
Her forehand was once a weakness, now she is hitting winners with it. Combined with one of the best backhands in the game and the best defense, she's a dangerous opponent for anyone in the draw.
When she can beat an in-form Maria Sharapova, she can beat anyone.
A rematch of last year's final against Kim Clijsters looks more and more likely. Mind you, Caroline will be more than ready this time.