French Open 2011: How the Women's Field Stacks Up Against Caroline Wozniacki
World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki has accomplished many things in her young career to this point. She has 12 career singles titles, including three already this year. She has an incredible smile that lights up the room and her easygoing style gets just about everybody on her side. The glaring accomplishment missing from her resume, however, is a Grand Slam title.
Serena Williams has not been seen since winning Wimbledon last year, and that has left a big void atop women's tennis, giving talented, young players like Wozniacki a chance at winning Grand Slams. While Wozniacki has struggled a little bit heading into the 2011 French Open, she won the season's first clay-court tournament and her style of play suits the clay well.
The only players that have won the French Open that are in this year's draw are the winners of the last three: Ana Ivanovic (2008), Svetlana Kuznetsova (2009) and Franchesa Schiavone (2010). The three veterans have combined for just one other Grand Slam title in their careers, however, and don't figure to pose much of a threat to Wozniacki if she's on her game. The top section of the draw that Wozniacki is in is the much easier half and gives her a great opportunity to reach the final without much pressure.
Two of the other favorites for this tournament are in the bottom half of the draw. Maria Sharapova is at the top of her game coming into the French Open, winning the tuneup event last week, beating Wozniacki along the way. Kim Clijsters is a force to be reckoned with as well, as the 2001 and 2003 French Open finalist is looking for her third consecutive Grand Slam title, dating back to last season.
Wozniacki could also draw another young star in the finals, someone like Andrea Petkovic, Petra Kvitova or Victoria Azarenka. Those three have been making noise all season and could present problems for Clijsters and Sharapova (Petkovic knocked off Sharapova in Australia). Kvitova was 6-0 in the clay-court season and Azarenka was 12-3.
Considering she makes it to the final round, nerves should not be an issue for the young Dane. Wozniacki reached a Grand Slam final in New York back in 2009, losing to Clijsters. She could in fact be able to use that in her favor if one of the other young stars reaches the final from the other half. If she has to play against Sharapova or Clijsters, it should come down to X's and O's and which player brings her best to the table, not about nerves.
If she plays Sharapova, the match is kind of in the hands of the Russian. Maria has one speed and one speed only, and that's to try to out-hit her opponent. If the Russian is firing on all cylinders, Wozniacki will struggle. But Sharapova rarely plays a near-flawless match from start to finish, which plays right into the hands of the consistently strong Dane, who rarely beats herself.
Clijsters, on the other hand, plays a very similar style to Wozniacki, and if the two meet, they could provide a very well-played championship match with a lot of long points. The result would likely come down to which player came up the best during the biggest moments.
All in all, Wozniacki has as good of a chance as any to capture this title. This will be the first tournament back for Clijsters after a few weeks sidelined with a knee injury. Sharapova's worst surface is the clay court and neither her nor Clijsters has won the French Open before. Add in the fact that the Dane has more experience late in tournaments than any of the other women not named Clijsters or Sharapova expected to make a run here, and this really could be her moment of glory.
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