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WTA Power Rankings: Great Dane Caroline Wozniacki Sweeps to No. 1

Posted on October 11, 2010 by Marianne Bevis

Caroline Wozniacki at the China Open, the new women's World No. 1.

While the cat’s away, the rest of the women’s tour will play. And the biggest reward has come to the beaming Caroline Wozniacki.

With 25 tournaments under her belt, six of them reaping titles, it was only a matter of time before she overtook Serena Williams to take the No 1 ranking and, in doing so, Wozniacki has become the first player from Denmark ever to hold the top ranking.

But what of the woman who seemed able dominate the tour with the minimum of effort, who played just six events this year, yet still managed to win two Grand Slam titles?

Serena has played no tennis since her Wimbledon triumph because of a cut foot, but she finally announced her return to the tour in Linz this week. Within days, however, she had withdrawn, citing a ‘physical problem.’

With so little preparation time before Doha in a fortnight’s time, her chances of defending the title she won there last year began to look increasingly slim. More, though, was to come.

On her website on Sunday, she announced that her foot was injured again, and that she would be unlikely to return to play this year.

Meanwhile, sister Venus, who played Serena in last year’s final, had already withdrawn for the rest of the season with a recurrent knee injury.

The Williams sisters are not the only mature players struggling with injury. Kim Clijsters was due to play in Beijing but a long-planned minor operation on her foot did not heal in time, and she withdrew.

She still plans to make the trip to Doha, but is far from a certainty. However fellow Belgian Justine Henin, has been unable to play since Wimbledon because of an elbow injury, and her website suggests she will not be going to Doha.

There are few, therefore, who seem able to keep pace with Wozniacki except perhaps the woman who has tracked her all year, Zvonareva.

The day after the Dane secured the No 1 ranking, the Russian ensured the No 3 position. They stand at three all in their head-to-head, and stand two apiece in meetings this year—two in semi-finals and two in finals.

It seems likely, therefore, that they will also contest the Tour Championships.

Top 10

1. Caroline Wozniacki (Last Power Ranking: 3; WTA Ranking: 1)
Last Four Tournaments: Beijing [Winner], Tokyo [Winner], US Open [Semifinalist], New Haven [Winner].
Power Ranking Points: 1,697

Wozniacki had her first shot at No. 1 at the 2010 U.S. Open but fell short.

Wozniacki is fast becoming one of the stars of tennis. Not only does she have a sunshine personality and a youthful style perfectly captured by her Stella McCartney kit, she has a flexible, all-court power game that has taken her, at just 20 years of age, to the very top.

It’s been an extraordinary summer for the Dane. Since Wimbledon, she’s won 30 matches for the loss of just two. Sadly for her, one of those losses was in the semi-finals of the US Open against Zvonareva.

In a rain-delayed final in Beijing this week, though, she wreaked revenge to take a tour-leading sixth title and her 59th match win of the year.

Surely it cannot be long before Wozniacki also captures one of the big events in the calendar: if not the Tour Championships in Doha, then her first Grand Slam.

There are few who seem able to keep pace with Wozniacki at the moment, except, perhaps, Zvonareva.

2. Vera Zvonareva (Last Power Ranking: 2; WTA Ranking: 3)
Last Four Tournaments: Beijing [Finalist], Tokyo [Quarterfinalist], US Open [Finalist], Montreal [Finalist].
Power Ranking Points: 1,170

Vera Zvonareva battles Caroline Wozniacki in the finals of the 2010 China Open.

This is the third month in a row that Zvonareva has filled the No 2 slot in the Power Rankings, and it was touch and go right up to the third set of their Beijing final whether it would be the Russian or the Dane on top this time.

Zvonareva seems to grow in confidence with every tournament, a quality she lacked in her first major assault on the tour in 2004. Back from injury and apparently enjoying her tennis more than ever, this is a real second flowering for the 26-year-old. There seems to be more to come, perhaps even the year-end Championship.

3. Kim Clijsters (Last Power Ranking: 1; WTA Ranking: 5)
Last Four Tournaments: US Open [Winner], Montreal [Quarterfinalist], Cincinnati [Winner], Wimbledon [Quarterfinalist].
Power Ranking Points: 561

It was a great summer for Clijsters, capped by a second triumph in New York, but bad news followed when she was forced to withdraw from Beijing following surgery to her foot. According to her website, the routine removal of moles from the sole of her foot did not go as smoothly as expected.

She has a guaranteed place for the finals in Doha and expects to be fit in time to take part, but it is hard to see her performing at her best in the circumstances.

She won the year-end tournament in 2002 and 2003. It would surely be a perfect climax to her return to the tour to repeat the feat in 2010.

4. Francesca Schiavone (Last Power Ranking: 7; WTA Ranking: 6)
Last Four Tournaments: Beijing [Quarterfinalist], Tokyo [Semifinalist], US Open [Quarterfinalist], New Haven [R32].
Power Ranking Points: 548

Italian Francesca Schiavone made her mark by winning the 2010 French Open.

The ebullient Italian is riding high once more after suffering a dip in form following her thrilling win at Roland Garros.

She has bounced back up the rankings and assured her place in the year-end championships for the first time with strong placings in New York, Tokyo, and Beijing.

She is taking time to recharge the batteries for her assault on the climax of the best year in her 12 year pro career. One thing’s for sure: If she wins in Doha, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.

5. Shahar Peer (Last Power Ranking: NR; WTA Ranking: 15)
Last Four Tournaments: Beijing [Semifinalist], Tokyo [R32], US Open [R16], Montreal [R64].
Power Ranking Points: 541

The Israeli has, until Beijing this week, been unable to recapture the form she showed in the early months of 2010 when she had several semi-final finishes.

Peeer managed the semis again in China, making easy progress through the draw before meeting Wozniacki.

She now heads to Osaka where she has a relatively benign draw to the semis again. She has jumped five places in the rankings this week to a career high, and she could move up several places more by the end of 2010.

6. Elena Dementieva (Last Power Ranking: OLI; WTA Ranking: 9)
Last Four Tournaments: Beijing [R16], Tokyo [Finalist], US Open [R16], New Haven [Semi-finalist].
Power Ranking Points: 535

Elena Dementieva of Russia has spent much of 2010 injured.

Since her two title wins and a final finish in Kuala Lumpur back in January and February, Dementieva has had, by her standards, a mediocre year.

Just when it looked as though she was making progress at the French Open, she was forced to withdraw with injury that kept her out of competition for the summer stretch. At last, with late summer and the US Open series, she started to find some better results and reached the final in Tokyo last week.

In a remarkably consistent career, Dementieva has finishing in the top eight every year since 2002—except for a No 11 blip in 2007. However, with her early exit from Beijing, this could be the first year since then that she ends the season outside the top 10.

7. Na Li (Last Power Ranking: NR; WTA Ranking: 11)
Last Four Tournaments: Beijing [Semifinalist], US Open [R128], Montreal [R16], Cincinnati [R16]
Power Ranking Points: 481

Since her wonderful run on the English grass in the summer, winning in Birmingham and reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, Li has struggled on the North American hard courts.

But back in her homeland, with the support of the Chinese crowd, the charming Li has shown her elegant court-craft again in reaching the semi-finals for the first time in her six appearances in Beijing.

She is not playing next week, but if she plays well in the last weeks of year, she could finish 2010 inside the top 10 at her highest ever ranking: another player who is maturing well as she approaches 30.

8. Ana Ivanovic (Last Power Ranking: OLI; WTA Ranking: 29)
Last Four Tournaments: Beijing [Quarterfinalist], Tokyo [R32], Seoul [R32], US Open [R16].
Power Ranking Points: 341

Ana Ivanovic is fighting her way back to the top of the women's game.

Only Maria Sharapova, Clijsters and the Williams sisters have played fewer events than Ivanovic this year. This week, though, she has broken back into the top 30 with a climb of seven places in a week. There are signs that the 22-year-old is regaining some of her confidence.

Her quarterfinal finish in Beijing, taking out the No 7 and No 11 seeds in the process, will hearten her and her many fans. She did not play after September last year so her late wild card entry to Linz in place of Serena Williams could pull herself inside the top 25 before the year end: a strong platform for progress in 2011.

9. Kaia Kanepi (Last Power Ranking: 6; WTA Ranking: 22)
Last Four Tournaments: Beijing [R32], Tokyo [Quaterfinalist], US Open [Quarterfinalist], New Haven [R32].
Power Ranking Points: 293

Kaia Kanepi has a good chance of finishing her season at her highest ever ranking, as she continues to edge her way up the list. She’s made an increasing impact, most notably since her quarterfinal finish at Wimbledon, then her first title in Palermo and another Slam quarterfinal at the US Open.

Her form continued in Tokyo where she took out two superior seeds, Jankovic and Peer, and she has made the leader board for the Tournament of Champions in Bali—for those who don’t make Doha. Watch out for more progress when she hits the hard courts of the Australian swing.

10. Victoria Azarenka (Last Power Ranking: NR; WTA Ranking: 10)
Last Four Tournaments: Beijing [R32], Tokyo [Semifinalist], US Open [R64], Montreal [Semifinalist].
Power Ranking Points: 272

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus works hard to improve her ranking.

Tokyo saw Azarenka’s first return to tennis after her dramatic collapse in the heat of Flushing Meadows.

After a good run in Japan, however, Azarenka was forced to retire in her first match in Beijing with an upper thigh strain. That doesn’t bode well for her chances of taking one of the two reserve spots for Doha, though she is currently next in line in the race.

Outside looking in

Maria Sharapova (Last Power Ranking: 9; WTA Ranking: 19)
Power Ranking Points: 205

Maria Sharapova made a disappointingly early exit from both Beijing and Tokyo, despite a really strong showing in the North American swing.

She’s reached five finals this year, and won two titles, so with a year ending ranking back inside the top 20, she should be pleased with her ‘work in progress’.

Still just 23, she has to build on her good comeback from injury and break the upper rankings during 2011. Meanwhile, she has the not-unpleasant prospect of joining Kanepi on the road to Bali in November.

Dominika Cibulkova (Last Power Ranking: 8; WTA Ranking: 32)
Power Ranking Points: 189

The diminutive Slovak has been unable to maintain the form she showed in her quarterfinal finish at the US Open either at Tokyo or Beijing, falling early in both.

She has reached a few semi-finals of small events this year, but has yet to make a real impact on the tour. 2011 could be a decisive year in her development, where she either proves that her high point of No 12 last year was a sign of things to come, or was a one-off burst.

Heading to Doha: The line-up for the Tour Championships:

Wozniacki, with back-to-back wins in the Far East, goes to Doha as favourite, as long as she has not over-played.

Zvonareva heads for Doha for the third time in a row and she may be the one to take advantage of Wozniacki if, as in New York, the Dane runs out of legs by the end of the tournament.

Clijsters has two tour-end titles—2002 and 2003—to her name but has a foot injury. Fully fit, she would be a major contender.

Samantha Stosur reaches the Championship for first time: if she finishes the season strong, she will be a danger.

Francesca Schiavone also appears for the first time having broken into the top 10 for the first time in her career. At 30, she’s playing the best tennis of her career. If Roland Garros, why not Doha?

Jelena Jankovic reaches the finals for the fourth year in a row, and was semi-finalist for the last two years. She cannot be discounted, but seems doubtful to get beyond the semis again.

Elena Dementieva is playing in the finals for the 10th time, and reached the semis in 2000 and 2008. She would be a popular, but a surprise, winner this time.

Possible reserves: Victoria Azarenka, Na Li and Shahar Peer.

[The Power Ranking Series is authored by JA Allen, Marianne Bevis and Ronger Fengerer (Feng Rong). To understand the point system compiled by Feng, click here.]

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