(October 28, 2010) Life isn't lonely at the top for Caroline Wozniacki, who wore the wide smile of a woman enjoying the top spot alone.
Twenty-year-old Wozniacki, the first Danish player to reach No. 1, secured a spot in Saturday's semifinals of the round-robin event.
Wozniacki raised her round-robin record to 2-1 after dismissing Elena Dementieva , 6-1, 6-1, in her opening match and falling to Samantha Stosur on Wednesday.
"2010 has been the most amazing year in my career during which I realized my dream of becoming the world number one," Wozniacki said. "Capturing the year-end world number one ranking is a huge accomplishment for me and I am thrilled that all the hard work has paid off."
Reigning US Open champion Kim Clijsters offset eight double faults with eight aces in a 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 triumph over Victoria Azarenka to raise her record to 2-0 in the White Group. Clijsters won the WTA Championships in 2002 and 2003.
Wozniacki, the youngest woman in the top 15, is the 10th player to conclude a season as World No. 1 since the inception of the WTA computer rankings in 1975. Only three woman younger than Wozniacki—Martina Hingis, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles—have finished as year-end No. 1.
The 2009 US Open finalist is 31-3 over her last seven tournaments. Wozniacki, who has won 25 of her last 27 matches, owns a WTA-best six titles this season.
Dementieva squandered four match points the last time she faced Samantha Stosur. Nerves have short-circuited Dementieva in the past, but she's never short-changed her effort level. Fighting back from a one-set, one-break deficit today, Dementieva turned her third match point into a declarative statement in sending a stinging serve down the middle to complete a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) WTA Championships victory over Stosur.
It was the first three-set match of the tournament and the most dramatic Doha match of the week after six straight singles matches were straight-set sweeps.
Competing in her 10th career season-ending championships, Dementieva evened her record to 1-1 in the Maroon Group of the round-robin event.
Despite the defeat, Stosur walked off a winner. The fifth-seed Australian, who dropped to 2-1 in the Maroon Group after wins over Wozniacki and French Open champ Francesca Schiavone, secured a spot in Saturday's semifinals.
Blown out by Wozniacki, 6-1, 6-1, in her first Maroon Group round-robin match in which she looked hobbled by an ankle injury, Dementieva found herself in a familiar position today—battling back from a one-set, one-break hole.
"I'm always down a set and a break," a smiling Dementieva said afterward. "It wasn't easy to play today especially after losing to Caroline very easily. I was trying to fight for every point. It feels great to win 7-6 in the third."
Last month, Stosur stared down four match points in dealing a dose of major heartbreak to Dementieva. The French Open finalist rallied for a 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(2) US Open fourth-round triumph.
Stosur seemed to be headed toward a straight-sets win, but Dementieva was not deterred.
The ninth-ranked Russian broke for 5-4.
Serving for the second set, Dementieva got down 0-30, but again came back and when Stosur clanked a forehand well wide, Dementieva had a set point.
Playing exclusively from her backhand corner, a stubborn Dementieva continuously played her backhand crosscourt trying to target Stosur's weaker backhand swing. Stosur, giving up much of the court trying to hit her forehand, cracked a crosscourt backhand that stretched Dementieva, forcing her to jab a one-handed backhand into the middle of the court.
Stosur got the short ball she sought and fired an inside out forehand but Dementieva was waiting on it and blasted a backhand winner up the line to snap a 17-shot rally and seize the second set.
WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS - DOHA 2010
Results - Thursday, October 28
Round Robin (Maroon)
(1) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. (4) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 36 61 61
(7) Elena Dementieva (RUS) d. (5) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 46 64 76(4)
Round Robin (White)
(3) Kim Clijsters (BEL) d. (8) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 64 57 61
Order of Play - Friday, October 29
Khalifa Tennis Complex
1. Francesca Schiavone vs. Elena Dementieva
2. Vera Zvonareva vs. Kim Clijsters
3. Jelena Jankovic vs. Victoria Azarenka