Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki secured the year-end world number one ranking with a 3-6 6-1 6-1 win over Francesca Schiavone at the WTA Championships in Doha.
Wozniacki, the first Dane to become a number one tennis player, needed two wins at the season-ending tournament in the Qatari capital to ensure the top spot.
Russia’s Vera Zvonareva had threatened to snatch the status away from the 20-year-old but, as a result of her victory against Schiavone, her attempts have proved futile.
“2010 has been the most amazing year in my career during which I realised my dream of becoming the world number one,” Wozniacki said.
“Capturing the year-end world number one ranking is a huge accomplishment for me and I am thrilled that all the hard work has paid off.”
After blowing away Elena Dementieva in her Maroon Group opener, Wozniacki suffered a shock defeat by Sam Stosur on Wednesday to give Zvonareva hope.
However, the 20-year-old from Odense made no mistake against French Open champion Schiavone.
The French Open champion raced into a 4-1 lead, prompting Wozniacki’s father and coach Piotr to come out on court for a pep talk, before thumping a trio of aces at 5-3 to reach set point and unleashing a backhand winner down the line to draw first blood.
That would be as good as it would get for the 30-year-old French Open champion as Wozniacki grabbed the match by the scruff of the neck and never let go. She streaked into a 3-0 lead as Schiavone began to unravel with a string of unforced errors and emotional outbursts.
After taking the second set, Wozniacki pressed home the advantage and broke in the first game of the third. Schiavone made a brave stand in the fourth game as the duo treated the crowd to the rally of the tournament but the Dane was in full flow and wrapped up victory on her fourth match point.
The win guarantees Wozniacki a spot in Saturday’s semi-finals while Italy’s Schiavone cannot make the final four.
The Dane, the youngest player in the field, has already won six titles this season and claimed the number one ranking earlier this month after reaching the quarter-finals of the China Open, which she went on to win.
Since Wimbledon 2010, the Dane has amassed a 31-3 record in seven tournaments played, winning 25 of her last 27 matches.
Wozniacki becomes only the 10th player to end the season as the world number one since the WTA ranking system was introduced in 1975.
Only three players younger than Wozniacki have ended the year ranked world number one: Martina Hingis, Monica Seles and Steffi Graf.
“Little Princess” Wozniacki enjoys Doha coronation
DOHA (Reuters) - A cramp-ridden Caroline Wozniacki lay twisted and tortured on the hardcourt of Doha in October 2009 but 12 months later she is certain to leave the same venue as the year-end world number one.
What a difference a year makes.
A year older, wiser and stronger, Wozniacki has been transformed into one of the most powerful players in women’s tennis, a fearsome baseline brawler with the lungs and heart to run her opponents into the ground.
Completion of this metamorphosis came on Thursday when the 20-year-old Dane sealed the year-end number one ranking by beating Italian Francesca Schiavone at the $4.55 million season-ending tournament in the Qatari capital.
“Last year I came into this tournament a little bit injured. I think that made my body work a little bit harder for everything,” Wozniacki told reporters after her 3-6 6-1 6-1 win over Schiavone at the Khalifa Tennis Complex.
“This year I feel like I’m fit, I’m feeling well, feeling good physically. I’ve been working really hard off the court as well and that’s paid off. I’m really happy about that.”
Dubbed the ‘Little Princess’ back home, Wozniacki endured a three-hour battle against Victoria Azarenka in her opening game last year, then went the distance with Vera Zvonareva in a match that yielded blood, sweat and tears.
After the Russian’s nose started to ooze blood in the second set, Wozniacki was pole-axed by cramp in her heavily-strapped left thigh and was barely able to hobble to the net to shake hands after her three-set win.
The Dane would later retire with an abdominal strain after the first set of her semi-final against Serena Williams.
There would be no such injury problems for Wozniacki this year, however, as the beaming blonde celebrated ending the year as the world’s top-ranked player.
The tears of last season have been replaced by steely eyes, iron will and canary-yellow nail polish.
“I’ve had a great season. I’ve played some good matches here and now I can end the year at No. 1 it’s a really great feeling,” said Wozniacki.
“I’m only the 10th one to finish the year as No. 1 so I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved.”
Wozniacki, the youngest player in the Doha field, has won six titles this season and claimed the number one ranking earlier this month after reaching the quarter-finals of the China Open.
While some have questioned her right to be crowned world number one without winning a grand slam, Wozniacki knows there will always be sceptics no matter what she does.
“For me the most important thing is I know I’ve had a great season,” she said.
“I’ve won six tournaments so far and my friends and family are the ones that mean the most to me. That’s what I care about.”