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Caroline Wozniacki was one of sport’s success stories in the second half of 2014 and one thinks that the likeable Dane is worth supporting to have her best-ever tennis year in 2015.
Wozniacki began 2014 by tweeting that she had agreed to wed long-time boyfriend Rory McIlroy, who had proposed on New Year’s Eve in Sydney. Five months later and McIlroy broke off the engagement, telling the world that the issuing of wedding invitations made him realise that he was not ready for married life. Heart-broken Wozniacki crashed out of the French Open women’s singles in the first round but, boy, did she bounce back once she had come to grips with her grief.
Returning from one month off the circuit, Wozniacki played quite well in two grass-court tournaments, reaching the last four at Eastbourne and the last 16 at Wimbledon. Wozniacki’s surge up the rankings really kicked into gear once the tour moved on to hard courts and, if it has not been for Serena Williams, she would have won more than the one title that she did take out, such was her excellent late-year form.
Wozniacki ended 2014 with a women’s singles record of 49-19 but, after The Championships at Wimbledon, her numbers were 28-8, reaching the semi-finals or better six times in nine events, including the US Open final at Flushing Meadows in which she lost 3-6 3-6 to her best friend forever, Williams. Exclude post-Wimbledon matches versus Williams and Wozniacki finished the year 28-4, including 6-2 against top-10 players other than her great mate and 18-time Grand Slam champion.
Statistically, Wozniacki is the best women’s singles player without a Grand Slam trophy in her cabinet – her 22 titles are the most for a non-Grand Slam winner, as are her 67 weeks as the world number one. Wozniacki was sliding down the rankings until she split from McIlroy but she bounced back to end 2014 at number eight and her form in the second half of the year was as good as anyone except Williams, who is showing signs of slowing down at the age of 33 – she won only one Grand Slam title in 2014 and she has not won the season’s first big event, the Australian Open, since 2010.
Wozniacki, 24, told an American magazine recently that she wants to win a Grand Slam women’s singles final in 2015 and, given her liking of hard courts, excellent form towards the end of 2014 and the vulnerability of Williams in the year’s opening major tournament, the Dane is attractively priced at odds of +1600 with Ladbrokes and William Hill. Wozniacki is the type of person to whom the Melbourne Park crowds may warm now that their former favourites, Kim Clijsters and Na Li, have hung up their racquets. One would expect Wozniacki to have good support versus all bar an Australian player.
Other Wozniacki bets that hold some level of appeal are the odds of -149 with Sky Bet that she finishes 2015 in the world’s top eight women’s singles players and the odds of +2500 with Sportingbet that she finishes the year at the top of the rankings, which is conceivable if Williams does not improve her Grand Slam performances or misses many events.
What does not appeal, though, is the Paddy Power offer of odds of +500 that Wozniacki wins a Grand Slam women’s singles title in 2015. Realistically, the Australian Open and the US Open represent Wozniacki’s only real shots at major glory because she has not made it past the fourth round at The Championships or the quarter-finals at the French Open. If Wozniacki is going to break through in a Grand Slam event then everything in her record suggests that she will do it either in Melbourne or New York where hard courts rule.
Win Australian Open @
Finish 2015 in the top 8 @ -149
Finish 2015 as World Number One @ +2500
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