A week in the life of the world number one

The nation’s golden girl begins her bid to break her grand slam tournament duck next Monday, but Woz this her last ever week as number one?

Many contend that Caroline Wozniacki’s number one ranking is meaningless. They’re wrong. While she might not be the best player in the world, her 64 weeks at the top have changed her life forever.

Sure, she’s pretty. Sure, she’s got a famous boyfriend. But without the top spot she wouldn’t be where she is today: one of the most talked about athletes on the planet.

The world loves number ones, and in the build-up to her assault on the Australian Open, the first grand slam of the year that starts on Monday, here’s the irrefutable evidence that everybody’s talking about Caroline.

Tuesday January 3

As if she didn’t need the attention, she does the Macarena. And not just at home, or at a nightclub, but on court in front of thousands of Thai fans, with Victoria Azarenka. The Dane’s impromptu dance performances have become something of a common sight in 2011, endearing her to fans of her laidback persona, armchair perverts and people with appalling taste in music.

Wednesday January 4

There are few players in the history of tennis who don’t have an opinion about Caroline Wozniacki’s bid to break her grand slam duck, and Australian legend Margaret Court is the latest to come out of the woodwork to give her two pennies worth. While some of her opinions tend to be just pure baloney – in 1990 she memorably accused Martina Navrátilová and other lesbian and bisexual players of ruining the game – she did win a world record 24 grand slam singles titles, and 62 titles overall, so she does tend to know what she’s talking about … on court, and her words were encouraging advice for the Dane.   

“I would say to Caroline, if you can beat them in all the other tournaments, there’s no reason you can’t beat them in the grand slams,” the 69-year-old told Reuters. “I think you get a bit of a thing about it, thinking: ‘I haven’t won a grand slam,’ but the mind is a battlefield and she has to wipe these negative thoughts out. She can’t look back to the ones she’s lost. She has beaten all these other players and I think she will at a slam this year. If you look at the women’s majors this year, there were four different winners and that means any of the top women are capable of winning one.”

Thursday January 6

Wozniacki loses to rival Petra Kvitova, but perhaps the 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 score-line is closer than her critics expected. The tournament is the fairly ludicrous Hopman Cup, a team tournament in Australia in which Wozniacki is partnered with Denmark’s top male player Frederik Nielsen, the world number 240. With him losing all his games, she didn’t really have a prayer – no wonder she’d already booked her flight ahead of her loss to Kvitova.

Friday January 7

A rare rest day and perhaps a chance to catch up on all the nasty comments made about her in the media. Who are we kidding: they don’t call her Little Miss Sunshine because she sits around the house googling herself.

Although she would have to be backward not to already know what Swedish coach Sven Groeneveld told her and her father at the season-end WTA Championship in late October. “I told them that they have to realise that grand slam tennis does not last a whole year, but two weeks and seven matches,” he told Danish newspaper Politiken. Blimey, must have been like on the road to Damascus, until they closed their car window.

And then there was former number one Martina Hingis, who isn’t at all bitter that she had to retire at the age of 22. Wozniacki “may be moving better than the others, and she tries to go inside the court, but not often enough’’, she told French newspaper L’Equipe. “The fact that she does not win grand slams is not only her problem, but also that of her coach.’’ Miaow!

Forbes magazine, on the other hand, thinks Caroline Wozniacki is the bee’s knees, naming her on their exclusive under-30s list – a total of 30 people still not 30 who they expect to make a difference in the years ahead.

Saturday January 7

Ah, the perils of fame – there’s always a rag waiting to publish an unseemly photo. Aussie newspaper The Australian graciously implies that their current guest might be a porker, or is the camera telling porkie pies? An even bigger mystery is the headline: ‘New balls please for Caroline Wozniacki’, which begs another look at the bottom half of the photo. If there were grand slams in headline writing …

Sunday January 8

Wozniacki reveals that she likes a good punt with her fella, Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy, and that some of the forfeits involve them swapping clothing. No, it’s nothing like that, they’re a wholesome couple: clean, young, a little bit sickly. Apparently it might involve the Manchester United fan having to wear her specially-signed Liverpool shirt. “We had one bet about who was going to win a tournament first, and I did,” she tells Reuters. “Actually, I still have that ace in my hand in case he’s not nice to me.”

Monday January 9

When the going gets tough … Woz comes out fighting. Staring defeat in the face, 0-4 down in the decider against Slovakia’s Dominika Cubulkova – the same player who sent her crashing out of Wimbledon in the fourth round – the Dane digs deep to reel off six games in a row, avoid defeat and cling on to her number one ranking with a 7-5 2-6 6-4 victory in 140 minutes.

With Petra Kvitova in fine form on the other side of the draw, Wozniacki knows that a place in this weekend’s final might not be enough to prevent the Czech overtaking her. Or at least she knows that now, after finding out at a press conference. Whoever wins will “take” the top spot, she is told. “Well, I have the number one ranking, so I can’t take it,” comes the gnarled reply.

Next up: Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarters in the late game on Wednesday.

Tuesday January 10

Wozniacki is confirmed as the top seed for next week’s Australian Open ahead of the draw confirmation on Friday. It’s another excuse for the media to remind us she might not be number one by then.

Wozniacki fact box  |  Rankings and grand slams

Wozniacki is one of three players – along with Russia’s Dinara Safina and Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic – to reach number one and not win a grand slam.

Wozniacki’s 64 weeks as number one is the longest spell by a woman who hasn’t won a grand slam.

Kim Clijsters and Amelie Mauresmo are the only players to reach number one first and then go on to win a grand slam.

Wozniacki is the youngest player in the top 10, the second youngest in the top 20, and 14th youngest in the top 100.