Beginning the season as the world’s top player, Wozniacki was brought back to earth in 2012, falling outside the top 10 and only re-entering thanks to a late season, two-title surge. She was especially disappointing at the majors, falling in the third round in Paris and bombing in her opening matches at Wimbledon and the US Open.
Strengths: Dubbed the “Golden Retriever” by veteran tennis analyst Bud Collins, the Dane tracks down balls better than almost any player. Extremely fit and a polished counterpuncher, she thrives when she does a lot of running and is extremely hard to hit through or put away. Though not known for hitting many winners, Wozniacki does possess a fair bit of power, especially off the backhand wing.
Weaknesses: Power and aggressive instincts are what win Grand Slam titles, which is why Serena, Venus, Sharapova, Azarenka, Kvitova, Stosur and Li have won major tournaments yet the Dane remains slamless. What’s more troubling is that Wozniacki seems unable, or unwilling, to do anything to change this. While she may defend better than most, her forehand and serve remain attackable. She stubbornly retains her father as coach – while several other coaches with fresh perspectives have lasted barely a few months – and seems reluctant to push herself to harness the power and aggression afforded to her through her athletic build.
Opportunities: Wozniacki arrived at Melbourne Park in 2012 shouldering the pressure of being the top seed and having to justify her position. This time around she’s hardly in the conversation and can thus play without the burden of expectation, always something that makes a player of her calibre dangerous. And having reached the semis and quarters in her last two visits to Melbourne, she’s proved she can play well Down Under. Another deep run is not out of the question.
Threats: She may be able to outlast one power-hitter, but if she gets to the pointy end of the Australian Open, plenty more will loom. And history shows she won’t be able to fend off several in a row. The big-hitting Kaia Kanepi swatted her aside at Roland Garros this year, as did Kim Clijsters at Melbourne Park a few months earlier and Serena Williams at the US Open in 2011. If her attitude and approach to these contests don’t change, neither will her major tally.
Nicole Pratt, former world No.35 and Tennis Australia’s National Women’s Coach
“Caroline is still maturing and I still think her best tennis is yet to come … It'll be interesting to see if in the off-season she’s tried to add something more to her game, whether it be more free points on serve or penetrating more with the forehand. She's very much a retriever and a counterpuncher, which is a massive asset, but against the big hitters she needs to be prepared to risk-take and not rely on her opponents mistakes.”