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Friday, January 20, 2012

Australian Open: Will History Hunt Down Wozniacki?

Coming into the Australian Open, no one was quite sure what to expect from Caroline Wozniacki. She was in tears during her match against Agnieszka Radwanska in Sydney, ultimately losing the match and nursing a tender wrist, then complained of blisters in Melbourne. With pressure mounting on the world no. 1 to win her first slam (as it has been doing for two seasons now), it looked as though injury and strain would just give the Dane another excuse for why this tournament wouldn't be the one.

Miraculously, however, Wozniacki has looked sharp—by her standards at least. She might not rattle off winners like Serena or Sharapova, but she has appeared physically capable and match-tough.

Despite Wozniacki's inability to come through in the majors, she has accomplished some noteworthy things, including ending back-to-back seasons as the highest ranked player in the WTA. But while she will forever be written into history for this accomplishment, it looks as though history might be coming after her... hungry to take away that number one spot.

Wozniacki must reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open to even have a chance at maintaining her rank, but with drama queen Jelena Jankovic waiting for her in the round of 16, things might not be so easy. And here's the kicker: Jankovic, a former slamless no. 1 herself, lost the top spot in 2009 in the fourth round of the Australian Open. Will history repeat itself at the expense of Wozniacki?

It looks possible.

After steamrolling American young-gun Christina McHale, Jankovic looks prepared to take on a Wozniacki who hasn't been playing error-free. The Serbian holds a 4-3 advantage in the pair's head-to-head, but their last three meetings have all gone in favor of the Dane.

The match will surely involve extended rallies, stunning defense, and blistering backhands (the best shot for both contenders), but victory will come down to which pusher can be more aggressive. Both ladies have the skill to tattoo the baseline and whip extreme angles, but who will come to play?

It's history in the making. On which side of it will Wozniacki fall?


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