Grand slam title remains an elusive target for Caroline Wozniacki

The Dane's breakout performance was reaching the US Open final five years ago and she has been no closer to winning a first grand slam title since.

Caroline Wozniacki has not reached a grand slam final since reaching her first at the US Open in 2009. Elsa / Getty Images
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Five years ago, it looked as if the world was at the feet of Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki.

The No 9 seed marched through to her first grand slam final at the US Open, beating 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova along the way.

Though she came up short in the final in losing to wild-card Kim Clijsters 7-5, 6-3, it was a breakthrough performance and it looked as if it would be a matter of time before she joined the array of major winners in the women’s game.

Yet as she prepares for an eighth tilt at the US Open, which begins tomorrow, the world awaits her grand slam moment.

In fact, she has not reached a slam final since that defeat to Clijsters – three semi-finals are all she has to show for the past five years.

It has not been a completely wasted period for the 24 year old, however. She reached the world No 1 spot in October 2010, a position she has held for a combined 67 weeks.

In the record books, she is ninth in the list of females who have spent the most weeks as world No 1, but she is the only player in the top 10 without a major title to her name.

This year has been a tough one, both on and off the court. As the results remained inconsistent on the court, she had a well-publicised split with fiance Rory McIlroy in May.

While McIlroy has gone from strength to strength on the golf circuit, winning the British Open and the US PGA Championship, the same cannot be said of Wozniacki. She lost in the first round of the French Open in June, and then her efforts at Wimbledon summed up her fortunes at the major events.

She played superbly for the first three rounds at the All England Club, not dropping a set, and it was only positive noises from her camp.

But after a rest day, she was blasted off court in straight sets in the fourth round by unseeded Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, exiting another major tournament in meek fashion.

Once again, she played well for a week, but could not duplicate the effort for a second week. Too much for her and that is why comes up short.

Average players do not win 22 WTA titles and spend weeks atop the rankings, but for whatever reason, Wozniacki cannot play consistently for two weeks during a grand slam.

She won the Istanbul Cup since she was bounced at Wimbledon, but as the No 10 seed this week, she remains an outsider to be in the mix during the closing stages at New York.

The draw has not been kind to her, with a likely fourth-round tie against either Maria Sharapova in the offing, but then grand slams are not designed to be easy.

If Wozniacki retired tomorrow she would do so disappointed, although the career prize money of US$16.7 million (Dh61.3m) would cushion that blow.

She has won titles, been No 1, but the great players in the sport are defined by the major titles they have in their locker. Yes, Serena Williams has dominated the women’s game for much of the last 10 years, but championships have been there to be won.

Good, but not great players, including Samantha Stosur, Francesca Schiavone and Ana Ivanovic, have all won major titles in recent years.

There is a changing of the guard on the horizon, with Williams showing signs of slowing, but with youngsters such as Eugenie Bouchard on the scene, Wozniacki, is running out of time if she is to become a major winner.

gcaygill@thenational.ae

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