Dane becomes 20th woman to top WTA rankings
BEIJING (Reuters) - Caroline Wozniacki became the first Danish tennis player to be crowned world number one when she beat Czech Petra Kvitova 6-3 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals of the China Open on Thursday.
The 20-year-old dethroned American Serena Williams, who has not played since winning her 13th grand slam title at Wimbledon in July, when Kvitova smacked a service return into the net.
A jubilant Wozniacki held her arms aloft in celebration as Tina Turner’s hit “Simply the Best” blasted out of the PA system in Beijing’s Olympic tennis centre.
“Being number one has always been a dream for me,” a beaming Wozniacki told the cheering crowd after being presented with a an oversized number 1 made of flowers.
The Dane become the 20th woman to top the standings since their inception in 1975. However, Wozniacki is the third player in the last two years to have reached the pinnacle of tennis without winning one of the four grand slam titles.
Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic and Russia’s Dinara Safina are still without a major title despite topping the rankings in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
At 4-1 up in the first set, Wozniacki dropped two games before overpowering Kvitova -- but only after a quiet word from her father.
With the score at 5-3, Piotr Wozniacki came on to the court to spur on his daughter.
“He told me to try to get a lot of first serves in. He said she’s still there, that she’s a good player. So I should just keep fighting no matter if she comes back or not,” Wozniacki said.
The Liverpool football supporter was quick to defend her achievement from the critics of the ranking system -- which seems to reward quantity over quality as Williams has been usurped despite winning two of the four slams this year.
“A grand slam is definitely my next goal now that I’ve achieved becoming number one in the world -- one of my big dreams,” she said.
“I’m still young, so I still have a lot of time ahead of me. I’ve had a fantastic season, and I think I can be proud of this. It’s an incredible feeling for me right now to say that I’m number one in the world,” added Wozniacki, who next faces former number one Ana Ivanovic.
WTA chief executive Stacey Allaster was among the first to congratulate Wozniacki.
“It’s not surprising that Caroline’s incredible athleticism, discipline, dedication to training, and razor sharp focus have gotten her to world number one,” she said in a WTA statement.
Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion, said winning a grand slam tournament had brought her more satisfaction than the top ranking.
“I remember when they told me I was going to be number one, and I was very, very excited about it,” the 22-year-old Serbian said.
“But I remember I was even more hungry to win a grand slam. Grand slams definitely bring more satisfaction. If I’m never number one again but win another few grand slams, I’ll be more than happy.”
Wozniacki suffers scare, Djokovic fights through haze
BEIJING (Reuters) - World number one Caroline Wozniacki began life at the top with an injury scare Friday, while champion Novak Djokovic said players should have access to oxygen tanks on court after yet another smoggy day in Beijing.
Ecstasy turned to agony for Wozniacki less than 24 hours after she was crowned world number one when she crumpled to the ground clutching her left knee in tears while leading Serbia's Ana Ivanovic 7-6 3-1.
The 20-year-old overstretched as she smashed a backhanded return but after taking an injury time out to get her knee strapped, she showed her champion's instinct to reach the semi-finals by shunting aside Ivanovic 7-6 6-4. Air quality was so bad at the Olympic tennis center for the third day running that top seed Djokovic offered a solution to the problem.
"A box of oxygen or something on the bench would be great, but we don't have it. I guess I will have to get used to it," he said after securing a semi-final place with a 6-3 6-2 win over Frenchman Gilles Simon.