FRI: 15º/3º SAT: 13º/11º
Little Miss Sunshine aiming to make it three in a row at home
Fresh from her exploits in Miami, the darling of Danish tennis, Caroline Wozniacki, is returning to the less sunnier climes of Farum on Monday April 9 to give tennis fans a chance to experience her smashes and volleys at close quarters in an international field of 24 tennis players from the WTA tour.
With room for 2,500 spectators, Farum Arena has staked its place as the home of indoor Danish tennis. As one of the WTA’s International Tournaments, the e-boks Open, with prize money of $220,000, has been serving up an attractive fixture on the tennis calendar since 2010. Wozniacki will be looking to use her home advantage to make it a hat-trick of singles titles, following her victories in 2010 and 2011.
The star of the show is indisputably Denmark’s own Little Miss Sunshine. Despite losing her number one ranking, Wozniacki is one of the most popular players on the tour, endearing herself to tennis fans across the globe with her quirky interviews and on-court macarena dancing. Her ‘love-all’ whirlwind romance with mop-topped Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy has ensured plenty of column space in the gossip sections of newspapers. However, 2011 wasn’t quite the year when the current world number six made her grand slam breakthrough, but with the French Open and Wimbledon on the horizon, Farum may well prove the ideal warm-up. If everything goes according to plan, you can catch Caroline in the singles on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 4:15, and on Saturday and hopefully the final on Sunday at 2:30.
Clashing racquets with Wozniacki in the fun and games is an international field of 24 tennis players. This year, it is likely to be another former world number one, Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic, who provides the toughest test. Seeded second, 27-year-old Jankovic shares with Wozniacki the unenviable distinction of reaching the top of the rankings and failing to win a grand slam – the closest either have ever come is finishing runner-up in the US Open.
The third seed is the ever-improving German Angelique Kerber, who has risen to 14 in the world rankings and made the semis at the US Open in 2012. She won her first WTA title in February in the GDF Suez Open in Paris, ousting number one seed Maria Sharapova on the way.
Among the other players worth a mention is the remarkable veteran Japanese ace, Kimiko Date Krumm. Aged 41, Date Krumm retired in 1996 only to return to the professional circuit in 2008. Tennis fans will remember her epic three-hour encounter against Venus Williams at Wimbledon last year, in which she lost the last set 6-8. If it is power tennis you are after then look no further than the hard-serving Estonian Kaia Kanepi, who regularly wallops her serve at speeds of 170 km per hour. Those with a keen eye for up-and-coming talent will be at the courtside to watch the exciting Timea Babos who, at 18, has just won the Monterrey Open. Union Jack-waving Brits will have the chance of cheering on Hackney-born Anne Keothavong, Britain’s number two, whilst the talented young Russian, Valeria Savinykh, is sure to attract the click of the camera lens.
Autograph hunters will not want to miss the chance to meet Wozniacki and the other players. Signing sessions take place at 14:30 on every day (bar Tuesday) from Saturday until Friday at 14:30, and then on the final weekend at 13:00 on both days. For those whose lack of enthusiasm or money does not permit the trip to Farum, you can either wave to the girls as they cruise by on Monday’s Copenhagen canal boat tour at 5:00, or gatecrash the official party at Club Zen on Monday evening from 10:00. Those with the right connections will, of course, be hob-nobbing in the tournament’s VIP lounge, drinking mixed doubles.
Parents wanting to retire early and live off their children’s talents may wish to sign their offspring up for the Caroline Wozniacki Tennis Academy. For 2,500 kroner, top trainers will fine-tune the backhands of the budding tennis stars of the future, showing the youngsters exactly what it takes to get the top. The sessions are designed by Wozniacki, but the actual training is carried out by Davis Cup captain Kenneth Carlsen all day on 14 and 15 April at nearby Farum Tennis Club.
So, an enthralling week of top class singles and doubles tennis lie ahead in Farum – be sure to buy your tickets early. Hopefully a Wozniacki win will prove to be the harbinger of greater things to come in 2012.
Factfile | WTA International Tournaments
The Women’s Tennis Association’s International Tournaments (ITs) – which until 2009 were known as the WTA Tier III and Tier IV events – carry less prize money and ranking points than the Premier Tournaments (PTs), formerly the Tier I and II events. There are 32 ITs each year – 31 of which have a set purse of $220,000 – and 21 PTs, of which four events have purses of $4.5 million and another five, $2 million. Excluding qualifiers, the ITs are contested by 32 players over five rounds, while the PTs vary in size and can have as many as seven rounds, just like the grand slams. The winner of an IT wins only 280 ranking points compared to 470-1,000 for a PT, and 2,000 for a grand slam.