SUN: 16º/9º MON: 19º/6º
Fewer ranking points, less pressure
Caroline Wozniacki is 25/1 (with both Denmark’s Bet 365 and Ladbroke’s) to win this year’s French Open, which begins this Sunday at Roland Garros in Paris. Ranked ninth in the betting, it is a far cry from last year when she was as short as 11/2 second favourite a week ahead of the second grand slam of the year.
By rating her number nine, the bookmakers are taking heed of her world ranking – for once! After all, as world number one, she was never favoured to win a grand slam, so at least the bookies have stopped disrespecting her ranking. Every cloud.
It’s been a steady decline since she fell three places from the top spot after crashing out of the Australian Open in the quarter-finals. And Wozniacki slipped a further place last week after losing in the second round at the Rome Masters, an event that last year yielded a place in the semis, but this year she withdrew from due to injury – an “upper respiratory illness”, she told media.
Pundits argued that the old Wozniacki would have battled on and done anything to protect her ranking points. Like defending the pitiful amount she accumulated winning the 2011 Brussels Open this time last year – could this really be the same player who in 2010 and 2011 never stopped playing in her quest to be the best?
Instead, the decision to take a week off to prepare for the French Open confirms the Dane has switched her priorities: from ranking points to grand slams. Likewise, her first ever participation in the Aegon International grass court tournament in Eastbourne in southern England in mid-June confirms she is taking her participation in Wimbledon more seriously as well.
Nobody is expecting her to win the French Open this year, and and with only 160 ranking points to defend (having reached the third round last year), the Dane will be free of any such distractions – plus, it will be the first major in almost two years that she won’t be asked that dreaded question.
It should allow her to focus on her ultimate goal: winning her first grand slam. After all, she remains the youngest player in the world’s top 23. Time is on her hands.