Wozniacki on her way to becoming an 'it' girl

The victory by Caroline Wozniacki in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships sets up a fascinating storyline for the 2011 season.

Caroline Wozniacki during her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final win over Svetlana Kuznetsova on Sunday.
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The victory by Caroline Wozniacki in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships sets up a fascinating storyline for the 2011 season, and the women's game almost certainly will benefit from it.

Perhaps more than any other sport, tennis thrives on star power, and Wozniacki is beginning to have that "it" look.

Reclaiming the world No 1 ranking while on the grounds of the Aviation Club last week would seem to stamp her as a player unlikely to fade back into the pack, and just in time to give Kim Clijsters a real rival.

The women's game is a bit battered at the moment. Several of the most glamorous players are hurt (Serena and Venus Williams) or struggling (Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic) or newly disappeared (Justine Henin), but Wozniacki seems to be ready to step up as an enduring addition to the game's elite.

The fear was almost palpable that her run at the top might be as fleeting as those of Jelena Jankovic or Ivanovic, leaving Clijsters as a figure overshadowing the game, at least for now.

But by marching through the field at Dubai, Wozniacki demonstrated a strength of mind as well as a game strong enough to indicate that Clijsters has at least one rival to concern her, here and now. After all, the Dane is the one who just took the world No 1 ranking back from her.

The final in Dubai may have been disappointing, with Svetlana Kuznetsova's blizzard of unforced errors getting as much attention as Wozniacki's victory, but taken as a body of work, Wozniacki had a fine tournament.

She dismissed lesser opponents, she fought back from three set points to blunt a strong challenge from Jankovic and her very presence on the other side of the net seemed to unhinge both Shahar Peer and Kuznetsova.

The film director Woody Allen famously said "80 per cent of success is showing up" and Wozniacki seems to have digested that bit of wisdom. She does not have to play beyond her capabilities to win, and just by "showing up" she turned Peer and Kuznetsova into jelly.

Wozniacki also showed a bit of edge when she made clear, at least on her Twitter account, that No 1 matters to her. Tennis will never rival, say, boxing for chest-beating, but the electronic exchange between Wozniacki ("got my number one ranking back") and Clijsters ("Congrats :-) ha ha") practically constitutes trash talk in their more refined world.

The game now has "Caroline versus Kim" as a starting point for all further discussion and a focal point for all further examination. History indicates that a "who is No 1?" rivalry can practically carry this sport, and Wozniacki just demonstrated her readiness to be part of the discussion.

Review and preview

Men's tour
Andy Roddick, below, became the eighth American to win 30 ATP titles when he survived to overcome big-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic 7-6, 6-7, 7-5 in the final of the ATP event at Memphis. Robin Soderling of Sweden won his third title of the year by defeating Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-7, 6-3, 6-3 at the Open 13 event in Marseille, France.

ATP rankings
Player Country Points

1. R Nadal ESP 12,390

2.R Federer SUI 7,965

3. N Djokovic SRB 7,880

4. R Soderling SWE 6,055

5. A Murray GBR 5,760

Women's tour
Dane Caroline Wozniacki regained the world No 1 ranking as she won the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, routing Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-3 in the final.

WTA rankings
Player Country Points

1. C Wozniacki DEN 9,430

2. K Clijsters BEL 8,835

3. V Zvonareva RUS 7,155

4. S Stosur AUS 5,086

5. F Schiavone ITA 5,051

Upcoming tournaments

Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
Place: Aviation Club, Dubai
Duration: Until Sunday
Prize money: US$1.6 million
Champion: Novak Djokovic

Mexican Open
Place: Acapulco
Duration: Until Sunday
Prize money: US$955,000
Champion: David Ferrer

Qatar Open
Place: Doha
Duration: Until Sunday
Prize money: US$721,000
New event