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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 03:54 AM Thread Starter
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The undisputed... winner

The undisputed... winner


Source : Steve Tignor from tennis.com 03/10/2010

Caroline Wozniacki may soon be the No. 1 player in the world. If she does claim that semi-desirable position, we’ll be forced again to enter the murky existential zone where we try to decide what “No. 1” actually means, now that it’s no longer synonymous with “the best.” I don’t think anyone has come up with a satisfactory answer, except to say that Wozniacki, who didn’t reach the final of any major in 2010, will have done exactly what it takes to reach that spot: She’ll have earned the most ranking points of anyone in the last 12 months. She has played a lot of matches and has been a steady winner of them, two things that the computer likes. It’s just that the computer ain’t what it used to be, back when the players who were clearly the best—Chris, Martina, Steffi, Monica—made being No. 1 part of their identity. Serena Williams, the current top player in the world, doesn’t; she values being, say, the Wimbledon champion much more than what the computer tells her she is. In large part because of that, the Slams rule on the women’s side now, even more so than among the men. Without a prestigious series of events of its own that the players recognize and respect enough to gear up for, like the ATP’s Masters 1000s, the WTA and its Roadmap will continue to stand deep in the shadows of the majors.

What No. 1 means in the immediate future, and how much we should value it, may never be answered. But just because Wozniacki could soon have that dubious distinction doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate her game. We don’t have to focus only on what she can’t do, or how she pales in comparison to Serena. Watching her over the past year, my opinion of Wozniacki’s game has evolved. Last season, if you would have asked me if I enjoyed watching her play, I would likely have said no: I thought she was too safe, too colorless, too rote, too practical and conservative to capture the interest of even the most dedicated tennis fan. Three matches in 2010 have changed my view.

First I watched Wozniacki from up close on a side court at Indian Wells against Jie Zheng. The Chinese woman is a tough and pesky competitor, but Wozniacki was tougher. Her game was more physical, and her manner haughty—in the good haughty entitled way of a great player—than it appeared to be from far off. In other words, she wasn’t as safe and dull as I’d thought.

Then I watched her beat Maria Sharapova at the U.S. Open, with a subtle and smart game that, while it relied at its core on consistency, was nuanced at the edges. Wozniacki knew when to put a little more juice on the ball, when to throw in a moonball, when to go big on the first serve, and when to just shovel the ball back down the middle one more time. It wasn’t exciting, per se, but it rewarded the close attention of anyone interested in how someone goes about winning a tennis match.

That was even more true, I thought, of Wozniacki’s performance in the final this weekend in Tokyo. She was out-hit badly through the first set by Elena Dementieva, who appeared to have the one thing that Wozniacki doesn’t, the one thing that has kept her from going farther at the majors: the ability to pop the ball past her opponent from a neutral position on the baseline. The truth seemed to be out: Wozniacki can’t hang with the game’s best ball-strikers when they’re clicking.

The truth lasted for seven games. The trickiest part of winning an easy first set is keeping the momentum going through the first two or three games of the second, when you must start from scratch score-wise. Dementieva couldn’t do it. And she couldn’t do it because Wozniacki found a way to trip her up, to subtly take her out of the game that had been working so well. At 1-1, down 40-0, Wozniacki came up with one of her first winners of the day. It seemed like an innocuous point at the time, but it gave her just enough momentum of her own to begin to take the ball a tiny bit earlier, move up in the court a few inches, and change the direction of the ball a little more frequently. Suddenly, she was up 3-1 and the down-the-winners that Dementieva had been making were sailing just wide. Wozniacki’s game branched out from there. At 4-2, she cut under a neat little crosscourt touch shot at the net, and she broke Dementieva’s serve again with the help of a swinging forehand volley winner.

There are shades of the other No. 1 in the world, Rafael Nadal, in Wozniacki. Neither of them cave in even when the score looks extremely bleak in a particular game or set; part of their game plan is to out-work their opponents, and they don’t stop thinking that way when they’re behind. Each has a hard core of baseline consistency that’s augmented by surprising flourishes: At first glance, you wouldn’t expect either Nadal or Wozniacki to win with touch shots around the net, but they do. Each of them is also very good at gauging when to change the direction of the ball. Going crosscourt nine times out of 10 may seem boring or one-dimensional, but from a tactical standpoint, it makes the one time they don’t go crosscourt that much more surprising and effective.

Case in point. At 3-3 in the third, Wozniacki reached break point. She wasn’t playing brilliantly, but she was doing what she does best: hanging around and making life as difficult as possible for her opponent. On break point, Wozniacki worked the ball crosscourt with her backhand, cutting the angle a little shorter and moving Dementieva a little farther off court with each stroke. When she got a look at a ball inside the baseline, she didn’t hesitate. Wozniacki rifled her backhand up the line for a winner and the break. Two games later, Dementieva’s body and spirit looked broken, Wozniacki had another title, and she’d taken another step toward No. 1.

She isn't the best player, but Wozniacki makes a fine standard-bearer for the game. She won’t appeal to fans of fearsome power-hitters like Serena or Maria, or versatile athletes such as Justine or Kim, or even campy head cases like Vera or Sveta. But like Rafael Nadal, Wozniacki’s court smarts and self-awareness will reward patient viewers and students of the sport. No matter what its ultimate value, being No. 1 means that you win a lot. A player who knows how to do that will always be worth watching, and praising.

----------

Some interesting points though the comparison between Rafa and Caro... Discuss.

Génie - Victoria - Kristina.

Last edited by Vikapower; Oct 4th, 2010 at 04:02 AM.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 03:58 AM
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Re: The undisputed... winner

Fair enough

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 04:21 AM
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Re: The undisputed... winner

Great read, thanks for posting. I think the one thing he exaggerates about Woz's game is her touch, which is still just not that great.

And while some comparison to Nadal may be fair, she obviously couldn't be called the female counterpart to Rafa. Not the same amount of talent. But she is improving every few months, so who knows where she'll continue to go.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 06:33 AM
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Re: The undisputed... winner

That article is a big compliment to Caro

There are shades of the other No. 1 in the world, Rafael Nadal, in Wozniacki. Neither of them cave in even when the score looks extremely bleak in a particular game or set; part of their game plan is to out-work their opponents, and they don’t stop thinking that way when they’re behind. Each has a hard core of baseline consistency that’s augmented by surprising flourishes: At first glance, you wouldn’t expect either Nadal or Wozniacki to win with touch shots around the net, but they do. Each of them is also very good at gauging when to change the direction of the ball. Going crosscourt nine times out of 10 may seem boring or one-dimensional, but from a tactical standpoint, it makes the one time they don’t go crosscourt that much more surprising and effective.

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 06:36 AM
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Re: The undisputed... winner

Quote:
There are shades of the other No. 1 in the world, Rafael Nadal, in Wozniacki. Neither of them cave in even when the score looks extremely bleak in a particular game or set; part of their game plan is to out-work their opponents, and they don’t stop thinking that way when they’re behind..
Oh not this shit again.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 06:57 AM
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Re: The undisputed... winner

Quote:
Originally Posted by goldenlox View Post
That article is a big compliment to Caro

There are shades of the other No. 1 in the world, Rafael Nadal, in Wozniacki. Neither of them cave in even when the score looks extremely bleak in a particular game or set; part of their game plan is to out-work their opponents, and they don’t stop thinking that way when they’re behind. Each has a hard core of baseline consistency that’s augmented by surprising flourishes: At first glance, you wouldn’t expect either Nadal or Wozniacki to win with touch shots around the net, but they do. Each of them is also very good at gauging when to change the direction of the ball. Going crosscourt nine times out of 10 may seem boring or one-dimensional, but from a tactical standpoint, it makes the one time they don’t go crosscourt that much more surprising and effective.
You need to save this material for when Woz has 9 slams and a gold medal. Until then, she's just a wannabe Nadal.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 07:41 AM Thread Starter
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Re: The undisputed... winner

@ Goldenlox --- Whatever everyone has their own interpretation of this and the author stated his own feelings which from my side are very exagerrated especially when comparing Rafa to Caro who are really so far in terms of tennis and mental strengh... may I recall that Caro mentally lose the USO, tournament though she wouls have never won anyways...

What interests me in all this Caro praising though is the first paragraph and the perspective he puts on the women's tour even if we didn't need something like this to have realized that the rankigs are completely messed up, the actual roadmap is sometimes a circus killing at times the overall level of certain tournaments e.g Pekin, Beijing... that #1 rank has lost all prestige...

I think it's Gdsimmons that said that if Caro becomes #1 players willn't see her as the player to beat well, with certain parts of this article that statement is true considering that despite what the computer displays players know whom to fear and put down between Serena, Kimmie... so I don't see no players taking in the Dane seriously as #1...

This is illustrated by a simple fact, as soon as certain player play Serena they're 100% throwing everything at the American now the Dane comes and these same girls are very laxiste like as if a sign of I can still beat that girl with 30-40% level of play since she's quite a bit a lot inoffensive.

He also states something like that the slams has taken a drastical importance in the women's game due to the fact of the weaknesses of the roadmap [...] Interesting TF has always glorified slams over everything else me too, Caro didn't make a 1/2 or a final of any slam this year... Jelena when she became #1 the 06/10/08 she had 2 1/2 in her pocket Caro barely even passed the second week of slams until the USO... just again to show how weak all this is but as he kinds of secretly says, now, things are so depressing - Who cares ? - Caro is an alternative until the lost WTA boat finds a pilot to finally get that thing going in the right direction again.

Génie - Victoria - Kristina.

Last edited by Vikapower; Oct 4th, 2010 at 07:48 AM.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 09:14 AM
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Re: The undisputed... winner

@vikapower

Steve Tignor compared Caro with Rafa in only one aspect--the mental game, not going away, not giving in, play to the last point irrespective of score. He didn't compare their physical games and talents. I think it was a fair comparison, though he could have used Aaron Krickstein and probably less people would have blasted about it. But Steve's a modern journalist, he writes to create controversies.

And I think you're wrong in that Caro won't be the one to beat. She will. She probably already is. You may even hear the girls grunt in the locker rooms "OMFG I'm playing her again?" They may moan not because of (potential) #1 (which I agree is not as sacred as before but this WTA field can't be compared with the 90's anyway), but because it will takes huge efforts to beat her. Nobody can play perfect tennis for one set and a half and win the matches against her. Okay, at times Caro will be like the other girls and throw in an off-day, but that is just so rare. Generally you have to play consistently well (assuming you have the weapons to beat her) throughout the match to drive her away. This is not an easy endeavor and for today's headcases it may be too much.

There is something in Caro that should be appreciated. Think about it. What if Vika has half of Caro's mental?
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 09:33 AM
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Re: The undisputed... winner

Not a fan of Caro by any means, but I admire her mental attitude. She is really a winner and she doesn't care if it is her best friend who is on the other side, like so many other girls do. And she is matching up so well to the new generation of ballbashers so that she will win plenty of slams in the future is not even a topic. When the Williams sisters and the Belgians are gone, who can really say they have an advantage over Caro matchup wise and mentally speaking? If she keeps on playing until she is 30 I wouldn't be surprised if she wins some 10 slams in her career.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 09:34 AM
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Re: The undisputed... winner

Quote:
The trickiest part of winning an easy first set is keeping the momentum going through the first two or three games of the second, when you must start from scratch score-wise. Dementieva couldn’t do it. And she couldn’t do it because Wozniacki found a way to trip her up, to subtly take her out of the game that had been working so well.
Her opponent was Demented. I don't think any analysis is needed.

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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 11:20 AM
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Re: The undisputed... winner

Great blog. But ...... its written by Steve Tignor ... Steve Tignor with a genuine postive blog about Caroline Wozniacki .. I am in shock. I need to lie down now.

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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 11:44 AM
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Re: The undisputed... winner

Quote:
Originally Posted by vikapower View Post
@ Goldenlox --- Whatever everyone has their own interpretation of this and the author stated his own feelings which from my side are very exagerrated especially when comparing Rafa to Caro who are really so far in terms of tennis and mental strengh... may I recall that Caro mentally lose the USO, tournament though she wouls have never won anyways...

What interests me in all this Caro praising though is the first paragraph and the perspective he puts on the women's tour even if we didn't need something like this to have realized that the rankigs are completely messed up, the actual roadmap is sometimes a circus killing at times the overall level of certain tournaments e.g Pekin, Beijing... that #1 rank has lost all prestige...

I think it's Gdsimmons that said that if Caro becomes #1 players willn't see her as the player to beat well, with certain parts of this article that statement is true considering that despite what the computer displays players know whom to fear and put down between Serena, Kimmie... so I don't see no players taking in the Dane seriously as #1...

This is illustrated by a simple fact, as soon as certain player play Serena they're 100% throwing everything at the American now the Dane comes and these same girls are very laxiste like as if a sign of I can still beat that girl with 30-40% level of play since she's quite a bit a lot inoffensive.

He also states something like that the slams has taken a drastical importance in the women's game due to the fact of the weaknesses of the roadmap [...] Interesting TF has always glorified slams over everything else me too, Caro didn't make a 1/2 or a final of any slam this year... Jelena when she became #1 the 06/10/08 she had 2 1/2 in her pocket Caro barely even passed the second week of slams until the USO... just again to show how weak all this is but as he kinds of secretly says, now, things are so depressing - Who cares ? - Caro is an alternative until the lost WTA boat finds a pilot to finally get that thing going in the right direction again.

Another pathetic post about Caro. Seriously dude, give it up.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 12:02 PM
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Re: The undisputed... winner

That was a great read, he really captured the situation wozniacki is in well. As in the pros and cons of what she does on court, its pretty much exactly how i feel it is.

Also,

`Wozniacki’s court smarts and self-awareness will reward patient viewers and students of the sport. No matter what its ultimate value, being No. 1 means that you win a lot. A player who knows how to do that will always be worth watching, and praising.`

Great last sentence, i think the more patient tennisfan/student has learned in the last year now why its so good what wozniacki is doing.

The smirk towards the wta roadmap is wellplaced too, some might have missed it but it stands out in this article imo.

Thx for sharing!

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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 12:50 PM
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Re: The undisputed... winner

Quote:
Originally Posted by DragonFlame View Post
That was a great read, he really captured the situation wozniacki is in well. As in the pros and cons of what she does on court, its pretty much exactly how i feel it is.

Also,

`Wozniacki’s court smarts and self-awareness will reward patient viewers and students of the sport. No matter what its ultimate value, being No. 1 means that you win a lot. A player who knows how to do that will always be worth watching, and praising.`

Great last sentence, i think the more patient tennisfan/student has learned in the last year now why its so good what wozniacki is doing.

The smirk towards the wta roadmap is wellplaced too, some might have missed it but it stands out in this article imo.

Thx for sharing!
Agree. I am over my initial shock now. IMHO a key point Tignor alludes to in his blog is Caro's ability to 'mix' it up. The change of pace, the change of spin. To be ballbashing TF majority, they wont see anything but a 'boring' rally, where the ball just goes over the net a lot. BOOOOOOOring. Then suddenly Caro's opponent hits the ball out - UE; like for no apparent reason other than she is playing the 'luckiest' girl in world .. 'The opponent beat herself' blah blah ..

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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2010, 01:28 PM
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Re: The undisputed... winner

I think Steve has been spot on in many aspects in this article. I do think that Caro deserves the #1 ranking (if she get's it) - because she has been the best player in the last 12 months. No she hasent won any of the majors - but she has still be the player consistenly winning the most.
NO other player has won as many tournaments this year as her (not even Serena!). Serena doesnt care about the number 1 ranking anymore - she only plays the Slams. Serena has basically become guest of the slams. She might be the BEST player - but she isnt the player deserving the number 1 ranking - because the number 1 ranking is for the player who consistenly win the most - eg. Wozniacki!
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