Women's Tennis Betting: Looking out for Number One

Players Under the Microscope RSS / / 04 October 2010 / Leave a Comment

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Wozniacki - A worthy number one?

Wozniacki - A worthy number one?

"There is plenty of evidence why Wozniacki (currently trading around [3.9] favourite on Betfair to win this week’s China Open) deserves to be number one. The Dane owns a tour-leading 54/15 win-loss record in 2010. This weekend, Wozniacki also captured her fifth WTA Tour title of the season with a three-set victory over Elena Dementieva in Tokyo."

There is likely to be a change at the top of the WTA rankings this week, with Caroline Wozniacki set to take over from Serena Williams as world number one. Guy McCrea discusses if this will be a good thing for women's tennis...

She has been top of the pile in women's tennis since last November but Serena Williams' continued absence from WTA Tour play after foot surgery means Caroline Wozniacki can overtake the American atop the WTA rankings if she reaches the quarter-finals or better at this week's China Open. If she does it, Wozniacki will be the tenth woman to hit number one before her 21st birthday.

Serena has participated in a mere six events this season - three majors, together with a final run in Sydney, a semi-final in Rome and an early exit in Madrid. She hasn't played officially since winning her 13th Grand Slam singles crown at Wimbledon in early July. But Serena hasn't allowed continuing rehab from foot surgery to stop her putting in plenty of appearances away from the tennis court. In the past month alone, you could have seen the world number one on America's Home Shopping Network, at London Fashion Week and on an episode of Oprah. No rest for the injured, clearly.

There is plenty of evidence why Wozniacki (currently trading around [3.9] favourite on Betfair to win this week's China Open) deserves to be number one. The Dane owns a tour-leading 54/15 win-loss record in 2010. This weekend, Wozniacki also captured her fifth WTA Tour title of the season with a three-set victory over Elena Dementieva in Tokyo. It is the first time a WTA player has won five titles in a season since Justine Henin snared ten trophies in her terrific 2007 campaign.

Of course, against all this is the fact that Wozniacki is still to win a Grand Slam title. It looked like that wait would end at last month's US Open. As top seed, she impressively carved her way through the draw. But Wozniacki then turned in a virtual no-show in the semi-finals against Vera Zvonareva (around [6.6] to win in Beijing.) The result was such a disappointment for the Dane because not for the first time, she made a limp exit from a Grand Slam without appearing to have any answers to her opponent's game. It was another case of no plan B and no maiden major title for Wozniacki.

The thing is - we've been here before. Justine Henin's decision to take a break from the WTA Tour in May 2008 when still world number one provoked an uncertain period for women's tennis, as the top ranking was also held by women who hadn't won a Grand Slam singles title - Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic ([19.0] to win in Beijing).

In contrast, no one has ever questioned Serena's stays as the world's best female. She has won five of the past nine major singles titles and is already one of the sport's greats. But it is obviously tough for her to remain at the top of the rankings with just six events played this season. Yes, the Slams are most important - but the ranking is also designed to reward regular year-round achievement and as such, Wozniacki will deserve it if she achieves the feat in Beijing.

It would be a huge surprise if Wozniacki doesn't reach at least the China Open quarter finals - her requirement to seize the top ranking. The Dane's success in Tokyo means she has an opening round bye this week. Her second round opponent Sara Errani is a feisty competitor but hasn't been past the quarter finals of any WTA event since mid-July. Back Wozniacki to progress in straight sets.

Neither of her potential third round opponents will be pushovers either - Petra Kvitova thrashed an out-of-sorts Wozniacki at Wimbledon, while Kaia Kanepi ([15.0] to win Beijing) is back in the world's top 25 - but the Dane still owns winning records against both and these are the sorts of contests at tour level that Wozniacki is used to winning. Two victories and the top ranking is hers.

In my mind, there is little doubt that the WTA Tour would ideally prefer their top-ranked player to also be a Grand Slam champion though - if only to rally against other recent disappointments concerning its biggest stars. Justine Henin was ruled out for the season after an elbow injury at Wimbledon, Serena and Kim Clijsters are still both recovering from foot surgery, with no certainty either will be present at the prestigious year-end WTA Championships in Doha. Maria Sharapova is yet to snare a really big title this season and Ana Ivanovic remains inconsistent despite a recent upturn in form.

Add to this that the last two major women's finals have been terribly one-sided affairs and it is all a world away from the cheer in the opening half of 2010 - highlighted by a classic Australian Open final and Francesca Schiavone's fantastic French Open success. All this isn't the WTA Tour's fault of course - but it is a sobering situation for those who follow the women's game.

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