Caroline Wozniacki’s rivalry with Kim Clijsters will see the young Dane take back the world number one ranking from the US Open champion if she can manage a good run at the Dubai Open starting on Monday.
Wozniacki lost an exciting three-set final to Clijsters at the year-end WTA Championships in Doha, and then had to relinquish the top spot to Clijsters when the Belgian reached the semifinals of the Paris Open on Friday.
But Wozniacki’s consistency and Clijsters’ decision to take a break from competition next week has brought the possibility of the pinnacle changing hands again next week.
“I dreamed about being number one since I was a little girl,” Wozniacki said.
However the Dubai tournament has a tougher field than Paris.
Eight of the world’s top ten and 14 of its top 20 are taking part in Dubai in a $2 million event which is reputed also to pay generous prize money to some leading players.
Wozniacki lost in the second round last year to Shahar Peer, the Israeli who spent much of the tournament isolated in a heavily guarded outhouse after becoming the first female Israeli athlete ever to compete in the UAE.
Peer may endure similar privations this time, but the top-seeded Wozniacki expects to have a very different tournament from that of 2010. She is extremely keen to start atoning for her last match, which was perhaps the biggest disappointment of her career: a loss in the semifinals of the Australian Open.
There Wozniacki missed a match point for a straight sets win over against Li Na, who went on to become the first Chinese singles player ever to reach a Grand Slam final.
“Sometimes one ball can change everything. It will be quite difficult to get over this,” admitted Wozniacki, who has been trying to erase it from her mind by working extra hard.
Li Na will also be competing for the first time since the Australian Open and could play Wozniacki again as early as the last 16.
In the same half of the draw is Peer, as well as two former world number ones Jelena Jankovic, and Ana Ivanovic. Jankovic will be starting a season which has been placed on hold by an operation to remove something from her left eye.
“I was having problems seeing clearly, especially in night matches. After surgery I had a patch over it so I kind of looked like a pirate for a while!” said Jankovic.
Ivanovic this week made a comeback from an abdominal injury which restricted her to only one match this year. Although she is back in the top 20 but still has not won a Grand Slam for more than two and a half years. Notable absentees are the Williams sisters, who have often played in the lucrative Dubai event - something which will increase rumours that their great careers may be not far from an end.
Serena still has not competed since Wimbledon seven months ago, and Venus has had just two matches this year but has failed to complete a tournament since the US Open five months ago.
1. Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark); 2. Vera Zvonareva (Russia); 3. Francesca Schiavone (Italy); 4. Samantha Stosur (Australia); 5. Li Na (China); 6. Jelena Jankovic (Serbia); 7. Victoria Azarenka (Belarussia); 8. Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)
Follow Emirates 24|7 on Google News.