Caroline Wozniacki knows it. The tennis fans know it. And the skeptics know it. The 21-year-old Dane must win the 2011 U.S. Open.
Despite being the No. 1 seed for the second year in a row, Wozniacki is still receiving hefty criticism due to the fact that she has never won a major. So can she silence the critics?
There are a few factors that will determine whether or not she will win her first slam in Flushing Meadows New York, when the U.S. Open begins on Monday, Aug. 29, wrapping up on Sept. 11.
First off, Wozniacki has slowed down a tad as of late on her productivity, so it won’t be easy. She will have to prepare wisely.
The No. 1 ranked women’s player has hit the skids in July and early August, not producing any championships, including an embarrassing first-round loss in Cincinnati to 76Th ranked American Christina McHale. The match was very telling, as Wozniacki was outmaneuvered around the court by the 19-year-old newcomer, hitting numerous errors, mostly coming off her weaker-forehand side. It was the second week in a row where Wozniacki was sent home after a first-round match – following the tourney in Toronto.
Perhaps a shoulder injury, forcing her out of action for a month prior to Toronto, has been a contributing factor. But this week in New Haven, Conn. (a tournament she won last year) can help her regain some confidence going into New York. Unlike her past two tournaments, she got past her first opponent, Polona Hercog, Tuesday evening, 6-3, 6-0.
Secondly, Wozniacki has a few opponents she may face that have proven troublesome for her in the past.
No. 1 seed Vera Zvonareva defeated her in the semifinals last year. And on the hard-court of the Australian Open in January, China’s Li Na defeated her in the semifinals as well.
The absence of two-time reigning U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters, who announced she will not take part in the U.S. Open due to an abdominal injury, will definitely open up the possibilities.
But there are so many other women that have caught fire as of late, such as Maria Sharapova, who just won the tourney in Cincinnati. And don’t forget about Serena Williams. Even though she has been plagued with a toe injury, which forced her to drop out of Cincinnati, the three-time U.S. Open champion is capable of anything.
And finally, the good news for Wozniacki is the U.S. Open is her major. It is one that put her on the map, when she made it to the finals in 2009, falling to three-time U.S. Open Champion, Kim Clijsters. She may make it to the finals this year, but whether or not she will win the entire tournament and capture her first slam and thus silencing the tennis critics remains to be seen.