Caroline Wozniacki is Now # 1
By Raymond Rolak
South Miami hosts the WTA and Celebâ€™s
MIAMI– The new glamour-gal of world-wide tennis is 20 year old Caroline Wozniacki. The blonde native of Denmark is also the worldâ€™s ranked number one woman and is now set for center stage at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida. All the fashion, glitter, nightlife and celebrity party activities that South Beach is noted for will be center stage.
Currently, Wozniacki is the top talk of Danish and Euro sports media. She also has a great following in Poland because of her heritage. Her mother and father were born in Poland but decided to stay in Denmark after her father retired from playing Danish professional soccer in Odense. Her mother Anna had previously played volleyball for the Polish National Team. Her older brother Patrik got her started in tennis.
The Womenâ€™s Tennis Tour and the South Florida community combine for the next two weeks in what is known as the peoples, â€˜Party Tourâ€™. The players along with the Sony Ericsson Open folks made appearances at the famed CocoWalk in Coconut Grove. This area, known for its boutiques, restaurants, and night clubs transformed into a tennis and musical extravaganza. It offered a chance to get up close with the players and be part of the activities. The Ritz Carlton Hotel is ground zero for most of the glitter activities and also offers great chances to see the players up close and casually.
Other than the U.S. Open in New York this event has the most off-court celebrity appeal. Belgian Kim Clijsters last years champ returns as the second-ranked player in the world and the No.2 seed. She has been nursing a recent shoulder injury.
At the Sony Ericsson Open preview, Wozniacki said, â€œIâ€™m a different player for sureâ€¦ more experienced.â€ â€œI feel like Iâ€™m on a roll right now,â€ said the top seed. She added about her special training regimen. â€œI do a lot of boxing training. Itâ€™s a great way to stay fit and relieve stress.â€ There will be 46 of the worldâ€™s top 50 ranked women participating here.
Jelena Jankovic, the No. 6 seed, has had a solid string of results after losing in the second round of the Australian Open and believes sheâ€™s on the right track to success. â€œIâ€™m feeling pretty confident. Iâ€™ve played a lot of matches the last month. My game is coming back and Iâ€™m working hard.â€
Jankovic, a finalist here in 2008, knows that court conditions vary on a day-to-day basis. When I made the finals, it was sunny all week. The players and fans all enjoyed the weather,â€ Jankovic said. â€œLast year, it was quite windy and rainy, so it can be different each time.â€
During the â€˜Players Partyâ€™ at the Paris Theater in Miami Beach, Sony Ericsson executive Stefan Croix said, â€œTournaments are about the stars and fans, so you need things to go well. Thereâ€™s good energy this year so far but you always want to improve upon the previous event.â€
The world class tennis performers were front and center on the â€˜Red Carpetâ€™. Another Sony Ericsson representative, Steve Walker added, â€œWe have a lot of new products coming out, so this tournament is a great platform to introduce them.â€ Consumer electronics and phones were showcased and new video games were highlighted practically everywhere at the gala.
The 2011 Sony Ericsson Open will be played thru April 3, at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park in Miami. The two-week combined event is owned and operated by IMG of Cleveland and is considered the most glamorous event on both the ATP and WTA tours. Over 300,000 in attendance are expected and the finals will be broadcast on CBS.
The first tournament was in February, 1985 with Tim Mayotte and Martina Navratilova crowned singles champions.
36th Year of Tennis in Palm Springs
Wozniacki had the young strong legs and her side to side ease defeated Marion Bartoli 6-1, 2-6 and 6-3 to win the BNP Paribas Open. The victory kept Wozniacki at the number one world ranking. After the match she was jubilant, as Wozniacki was runner-up here to Jankovic a year ago.
It was her 14th Womenâ€™s Tennis Association title and her second this year. She had also won at Dubai. She has appeared in the finals for her third consecutive tournament.
â€œThis is such an amazing event and everyone loves playing here. Iâ€™m already looking forward to playing here next year,â€ Wozniacki said post match.
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden had its best attendance ever during the 36th year of the event. â€œI can keep playing out there for hours and hours,â€ Wozniacki said smiling. She won the tournament by running down her opponents.
The victory allowed Wozniacki to improve her results for the fifth straight year in the popular Palm Springs area tournament. She earned $700,000 for the title.
Near the end, Wozniacki asked for her coach, who is her father. Piotr Wozniacki came courtside and gave advice. She responded by holding serve in the next game before Bartoli double-faulted to fall behind 4-1. â€œHe said, â€˜You’re playing great. Just keep it up. Itâ€™s just one break in the second set. Just hang in there,â€™â€ she said afterwards. â€œMy dad calmed me down.â€
She rolled through the first set, breaking Bartoli three times with and having the runner-up going from side to side.
Wozniacki got to the final after besting Maria Sharapova, 6-1, 6-2, in a quick hour and twenty minutes. â€œItâ€™s pretty much a two-week event, and you have days in between like in the Grand Slams. Itâ€™s a big tournament, and I’m very, very happy,â€ said Wozniacki.
She was a sponsors dream, as Wozniacki concluded the ABC Television broadcast with gracious statements for her opponents, spectators and supporters. She finished by saying, â€œI played very, very well, I thought, actually in the whole match, it was in the first set, I felt like I had the most control. I just love playing matches. I like winning. I like holding the trophy.â€
Wozniacki now has two WTA titles this season, having won at Dubai earlier in the year. She now has 14 career titles. She also got a lot of post match attention about her conventional style but very denim-blue colored tennis dress with a ruffled neck strap. She wears adidas apparel by Stella McCartney.
(Lars Hjelmroth of Denmark contributed)