Enforced rest helps Caroline Wozniacki to the biggest title of her career in WTA Finals
Former world number one ends her career-long jinx against Venus Williams in spectacular style to lift the trophy for the first time
Caroline Wozniacki said an extended injury break last year was a crucial factor behind her WTA Finals victory, an echo of this season’s brilliant comebacks by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The former world number one beat Venus Williams for the first time in eight attempts to seal the biggest title of her career at the prestigious season finale in Singapore on Sunday.
It’s an outcome that seemed unlikely just over 12 months ago, when Wozniacki languished at number 74 after struggling to return from a major ankle injury sustained early in 2016.
But the 27-year-old Dane, who appeared fresh and hungry as she lost just once in five matches in Singapore, said the 10-week lay-off was a blessing in disguise.
Woznaicki pulled out of the Prudential Hong Kong Open two weeks ago, moments before she was to take the court, citing an elbow injury.
“I strongly believe everything happens for a reason and maybe I wouldn’t be here if that (injury) wouldn’t have happened,” she said after her 6-4, 6-4 win.
“I think the break from tennis for me was great. I really enjoyed being home, just doing normal stuff and not being able to hit a ball actually felt nice. When I felt ready, I came back.”
Wozniacki’s success follows revivals by Nadal and Federer, who both struggled with injury last year but have returned to split the men’s grand slam singles titles and the top two rankings in 2017.
Federer, 36, is a proponent of taking time to rest and he has announced that he will skip this week’s Paris Masters, admitting: “My body is asking for a break.”
Players have long complained about the arduous tennis season, which stretches from January to November with rankings points available at tournaments around the globe.
With Sunday’s win, Wozniacki will finish the year third in the rankings, having come into the tournament at six, having won the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo last month.
“I am so happy I managed to win in the end,” Wozniacki said. “Eight is my lucky number. If I was going to beat her (Williams) once in my career, it had to be today.
“It is really sweet, I couldn’t be happier right now.”
Wozniacki flourished in Singapore with her renowned counter-punching complemented by extra firepower as she beat Elina Svitolina, world number one Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova.
“I think I managed to stay aggressive,” she said.
“Even when I was pushing against the big hitters, I still managed to not be pushed too far behind the baseline, which was key this week.
“I felt pretty good about my game in general. I felt very calm for a lot of the time.”
Wozniacki may now be hopeful of landing a first grand slam title, after reaching the US Open final in 2009 and 2014.
But she said she wasn’t yet thinking about the Australian Open – the first Slam on the 2018 calendar – and was instead looking forward to another break.
“In a month’s time, I will start preparing for the next season,” she said. “I’m very happy the season is finished right now. I will not be touching a racquet for the next four weeks.
“It’s been a great year.”