Thursday, 30 October 2014

Serena and Caro - new Friendly Rivalry

Serena Williams, by her own unmatched standards, had a roller coaster 2014, but did tie up a few loose ends in the later stages, capturing a sixth US Open crown and eventually her third straight season ending WTA Finals.

However, while it was Maria Sharapova chasing Serena for the number one spot, and Simona Halep contesting the champion in the Singapore finale, the real rivalry created in the latter half of the year was a truly friendly one with Caroline Wozniacki.  Caro has revitalised her tennis since Wimbledon, and can lay serious claim to being the fittest player on tour.

While training for tennis tournaments throughout the world, Caro has also been preparing for a tilt at the New York marathon, and her performance level on court has not suffered, in fact has blossomed.

A record since the London grass of 28 match wins against 8 losses and a finishing ranking of 7 in the world are fine stats in isolation, but further analysis suggests greater credit is due the Danish star.

Twice she defeated the 2014 Roland Garros champion Sharapova, once at the US Open, and again in the WTA Finals.  In the WTA Finals she also swept aside the 2014 Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova and the third player seeded above her in her group Agnieszka Radwanska. (She had Radwanska's measure again earlier in the Cincinnati quarters in August)

A title winner in Istanbul and a finalist in Tokyo, Caro was clearly one of the top players based on matches won, but when you consider that half of her losses experienced from August to October were to Serena Williams, three of them after taking the first set from the best, and the other in the US Open final, the record is immediately seen in a different light.

Caroline Wozniacki will not take pleasure in the successive failures to overcome Serena, but she now knows that instead of just being cannon fodder for the world number one, a Wozniacki match up will in future continue to present a serious challenge for Williams.  The Australian Open final has materialised as a realistic target for which to aim.