Sunday, July 30, 2017

Five is the loneliest number

Today, Caroline Wozniacki lost her fifth final of the season to 2016 runner-up Katerina Siniakova at the Swedish Open in Bastad. The top-seeded Dane has reached five finals in 2017 and has lost all of them. The champion, yet another Czech player on the rise, will now move back into the top 40, but what of former world number 1 Wozniacki? As time goes by, the Dane's career becomes stranger and stranger. She has fought her way back into the top 10, yes, but what does it mean?

I'm reminded of when Jelena Jankovic stunned almost everyone by getting herself back into the top 10 in 2013, but then was unable to capitalize much on this achievement. My gut feeling is that Wozniacki's career is on the same path. I should add that I don't think this casts a bad light on either of them; they have both been number 1 in the world and they have both had great careers.

But the WTA landscape is shifting toward a younger group of players.

Well, sort of. The winner of the Nanchang event was none other than 31-year-old Peng Shuai, whose comeback from a back injury has been quite impressive. But in general, the younger generation of players is finally making its mark on the tour.

Will the North American hard court swing make a difference? I'm looking at Jo Konta to do well, but I'm also looking at Angie Kerber to make a late-season statement. Will Muguruza make a big hard court statement? And what about Ostapenko? Both of them feel like true wild cards in that they can now be expected to do just about anything.

If there's any pressure, though, it's on world number 1 Karolina Pliskova, who has yet to win a major, and who was last year's U.S. Open runner-up. An argument can be made that Pliskova "needs" to win the 2017 U.S. Open, and--while it would be a nice touch, and take the pressure off of her--I think she'll be fine if she doesn't win it. Having said that, I should add that I do consider her a major contender for the title.

No comments: