Caroline Wozniacki is the real number one player and she more than deserves her ranking


Caroline WozniackiIt’s been a never-ending debate about the way the WTA ranking system functions, whether it is flawed, whether a player who hasn’t won a Grand Slam should be ranked No.1, etc. Our faithful contributor John Bolan belongs to the group of those who strongly believe that Caroline Wozniacki deserves her top ranking, despite not having won a major, and below is the justification of his opinion.

The topic is more than relevant now when Wozniacki has clinched the No.1 season-ending ranking, by beating French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 3-6 6-1 6-1 at the WTA Championships to qualify for the semifinals alongside Vera Zvonareva, Kim Clijsters and Samantha Stosur.

The WTA’s ranking system favors the majors where the winner is awarded 2,000 ranking points. A few other tournaments award 1,000 points to the winner, but most award only 280 points to the winner. The mathematics works out that a player would need to win 8 of these regular tournaments to equal just one victory in a major. My personal opinion is that the WTA system is flawed and more points and money should be offered in the regular tournaments and less in the majors. If they would change their system, more good players would play in more tournaments. That is, if they want to be ranked number one or in the top ten.

Players like Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Venus Williams, and Serena Williams can choose to play a few tournaments each year and add some excitement to the game. But players who play a limited schedule should not expect to be ranked the same as a player who plays the entire tour. In my opinion, the WTA should be marketing its stars like Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka and others who play a full schedule and are highly ranked.

The reason Caroline deserves her ranking is because she played 21 tournaments in 2010. Serena in comparison played only 6. Perhaps, Serena has been injured part of the year and perhaps not. That is another issue. Caroline was injured, but she showed up anyway. She considered her commitment to play at Warsaw so important she played despite her injury. She re-injured herself there which put her at a disadvantage at the French Open. These things happen, but my point is great champions play through their injuries. They give 100% of themselves to the game. She played a total of 21 tournaments scoring more points than any other player. Some fans feel that she may not deserve her ranking because she didn’t win a major. But even with the ranking system skewed in favor of majors she, like Dinara Safina and others, managed to win more ranking points the hard way by winning more matches and more tournaments. Who is the real number one? Is it the player who played only 6 tournaments or the one that played the entire tour of 21 tournaments and accumulated the most ranking points? There is no question in my mind that it is Caroline Wozniacki.

I doubt if the WTA will take my advice and change their ranking system to help their smaller venues. They should, at the very least, market the players who play a full schedule and those that do so much for the game of tennis. Caroline Wozniacki is the personification of the great game of women’s tennis. The WTA should do everything in its power to ensure that all know that Caroline Wozniacki is number one. Today, she is the best player in the WTA. (photo: angelicalbite)


  1. I completely agree with this and it is time someone speaks out in the defense of players like Caroline, so that she does not suffer the pressures that Dinara nad Jelena endured. Caroline, like Dinara and Jelena previously, totally deserves the number 1 ranking because she earned it the hard way. Serena Williams has long been over-rated. Let’s show our support to the true, hard-core tennis players like Caroline Wozniacki!

  2. The current point system is fair as all eligible players have an equal chance to win the 280, 1000 and 2000 point tournaments. It usually takes winning a combination of these to be #1 (Caro did win 1000 points in the China Open).

    The majors are special events and deserve the 2000 pt premium. Caroline is only 20yrs old and may win several slams down the road and if she does, she’ll want her full 2000 pts.

    Caroline is rightfully #1 and it’s okay if some fans debate the issues of should a #1 have majors in her portfolio or have beaten top 5 players etc. The discussion helps creates interest and excitement and that’s good for the sport.

    In 2011, Caroline, Serena and the rest of the players will battle it out and once again at the end of the year, the player with the most points will be #1. That’s the way it is and should be.

  3. i agree that caroline does deserve the number 1 ranking because of her commitment to the tour and she did make the most points.

    how ever i dont think the system should be changed in the way you suggested but i do believe that bonus points should be awarded for defending titles, as it take a lot of mental and physical strength to do so. that is just my opinion though.

  4. I have absolutely no problem that Caroline is No.1. She’s got tons of wins to back it up. Since Wimbledon, Caroline lost just 3 matches! And you know how many tournaments she played, like 4 a month. Ok, let’s be precise – after Wimbledon she played 7 tournaments, 8 if you include the current Doha. And I’ll repeat, she’s lost just 3 matches in all those tournaments combined – 1 match in Doha, lost US Open semis to Sam Stosur and in Cincinnati round of 16 to Marion Bartoli. Therefore, her win-loss record since Wimbledon is 32-3. Can’t that silence the critics?

    John, thank you for contributing to my blog with this fresh story.

  5. Thanks for the feedback. Sam I like that idea of bonus points. It seems unfair that a player might defend her title and receive no points because of her win the previous year. Helen, do you really think Serena will be back in 2011? Will she ever play a full schedule again? I’m glad that you as well as France and Sam support Caroline as number one. Thanks Marija for including this article in your blog!

  6. JohnnyB, has Caroline gained more fans, or are the critics of her No.1 ranking too lazy to comment? 🙂 I expected more drama here haha.

  7. It’s not that the ranking system is wrong, it’s the players attitude that needs to change. I remember in 2007, when I started watching tennis, Justine was the ultimate number one and players had to work very, very hard so they could be able to compete with her and win tournaments. Being number one really meant something, and now, world number one is a 20 year old who has not reached her best, who still plays 21 tournament a year and has never defeated Williams sisters, Kim and Jelena?! I don’t know, to me, playing so many tournaments for a top player is just too much pressure on your health, we all remember her injury woes. But stil, it’s very unproffesional to skip the ”minor” tournaments.I think it’s really ridiculous to end year as world number one, without being able to be the best at 2 weeks in a row. Yes, she lost only 3 matches after Wimbledon, but what’s with her results from before? And she has just one semifinal at GS. I don’t have any problem with her being number one- she is the most constant player right now, I just don’t think she is the best, and unfortunately the best and the most constant doesn’t seem to come together in womens tennis these days. Anyway, I’m hoping to see some positive changes in 2011.

  8. By the way regarding the topic, I completely agree with the writer. I think Caroline Wozniacki deserves her no.1 ranking cause she works hard this year and her performance on court is showing a lot of improvement. For me, as amazing as they are, grand slams are ‘merely’ tournaments and it takes more than just winning a grand slam to become no.1.

    I really think Safina, Wozniacki, and Jankovic deserve their number one ranking just like Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Myskina, and Francesca Schiavone deserve their grand slam title. Tennis is a great sport with lots of opportunities to make great achievements and I dont think we should harshly judge these players in regards with their achievement and let them be their best in their own way.

  9. I totally agree with this. Even though I respect the achievements of the “big four” I think their cherry-picking of tournaments plays a big part in their success. When people put down the accomplishments of the likes of Wozniacki I think they should try to imagine what would be the tour like if every top player played only a few big-venue events and made themselves unavailable for the rest of the tour. It would be that it would brought WTA to the ruin!
    I think that current system puts too much emphasis on grand slams which undermines the importance of the smaller events.
    The focus of their PR is also mostly on the traditional four and others do get very little attention.
    Today, Dementieva retired. WTA website did not do anything special as to honor her only a couple of highlights despite the fact she was one of the most consistent players.
    People like her, Caroline, Zvonareva, Azarenka are those who do not only play grand slams, they play the tour. One of the reasons why the profile of women’s tennis is so low is that WTA does a bad job in promotion of tour events and it overemphasizes grand slams. As a result players like Wozniacki cannot fully enjoy their accomplishments, it’s rather the opposite – they come back to haunt them.
    It’s not fair and it needs to be fixed because it’s truly bizarre when someone says “it’s not her fault she is no.1”. It’s not a “fault” it is an accomplishment”.

  10. I don’t think a lot of people underestimate ”smaller” tournaments, the Premier ones are ranked very highely and it is a great success when you win them, it’s just that winning at GS is differnt and harder. There you play at the biggest stage, for biggest money prize, eternal fame- in front of 10000 people and millions on TV. So, there is a lot of pressure and drama, ’cause there are 128 players wanting to distinguish themselfes (especially the teenagers and qualifiers, thirsty for success) in front of crowd, sponsors, TV viewers… And you have to fight against those players for 14 days, and win 7 matches in row so, yeah, it is pretty harder, pshycially and mentally. And thats why the real number one needs a GS title.

  11. The real no.1 needs consistency not just to win grand slam. Grand slam is also just a tournament. Francesca Schiavone has one, but she is not no.1. Why? Because apart from that one big win her other results simply weren’t good enough.
    Grand slams are way over rated in womens tennis. Compared to mens they are not that hard, women have to play three sets maximun and win one more match than at the regular tournament. Also, when it comes to the number of players there, it may be bigger but it makes little difference to the ranked players. Also, the higher ranking, the easier opponents they have in the first few rounds. They are a big stage, but so what? Good tennis can (and should) be found also at small venues. And, with regards to audience, the biggest crowd usually gathers at crucial stages of the tournaments. TV ratings of grand slams are not always high as you may imagine.

  12. Kim has a family and has to balance her play. Justine would have played more tournaments this year…but she got injured.Before her retirement she played a lot of tournaments, unlike the William sisters who only play GS.

  13. I dont see Caroline as the ‘real’ #1 at all. Albeit, she won all the titles that she did. Good for her. She won them fair and square ( with a little on court coaching of course but I digress ). She has played something like 24 tournaments this year. I mean eventually she would rack up a lot of points with this flawed system. However that does not make her the best player in the world. It makes her good at racking up points. All of Wozniacki’s opponents post Wimbledon have been the lower lever players. Not the Serenas, or the Venus’ or the Clijsters. With all of them injured and everything Wozniacki became the best, but the best of the rest.

  14. Of course winning a GS doesn’t make you no.1 and it’s a lot easier to win it then at men’s, but if it’s not that hard, how come and why haven’t Caroline, Jankovic, Safina, and how many other great players (like Dementieva)have won it already? I just think they should focus on winning them, ’cause we’ve seen them win big tournamnets and now it’s time for the biggest, and the point is that you really have to be, not just physically, but more mentally ready for GS.

  15. Hi John B.

    I’m confident that both Serena and Venus will return next year, they have never lost to Caroline and may feel the extra incentive to test the new world’s #1. Also, Justine and Kim have never lost to Caro and may feel similarly inspired (Kim could meet Caro in Doha).

    So, if the multiple slam winners aforementioned return in good form then there could be some exciting tennis as the veterans challenge the top young guns who probably sense its their turn to reign now and win majors.

    I’m not a big fan of seeing elite players playing full schedules, mainly because often it can be too demanding mentally and physically. The grand slams need the top stars to be healthy and in good form.I wouldn’t be surprised if Caro becomes more selective next year. The majors brings tremendous exposure to the sport and that interest benefits lesser tournaments/players. Finally, if the elite aren’t showing up at every event, it gives lesser players a chance to win titles, money and gain confidence.

  16. @France, Serena Williams not over-rated, much as you and many others like you would like it to be so.

    In 2007 when Serena was making her way back to the Tour after suffering many injuries, and going through a stage of depression due to the untimely death of her sister, she played approximately 15 tournaments.

    In 2008 1 year after her return to the Tour, she played 16 tournaments.

    In 2009, 2 years after her return to the Tour she played 13 tournaments.

    In 2010, due to surgery on her foot (twice) she has only played 6 tournaments.

    Serena Williams is 29 years old. She has been a professional tennis player since she was 14 years old. That is 15 long years on Tour.

    When players reach a certain age and have played a significant number of tournaments, they get gold exemption status from the WTA which permits them to limit the number of tournaments that they play without being penalised. Neither Serena or Venus have chosen to do that. Lindsay Davenport during the latter stages of her career was a gold exempt player.

    Serena was No. 1 from the beginning of the season until the fall of this year. It took Wozniacki playing every single tournament since Wimbledon to take the NO. 1 ranking away from her. I would say that not only was Serena a worthy No.1 but Wozniacki had to do a whole lot of winning to take that ranking. Now, let us see how many tournaments Serena has to play before Wozniacki is no longer No. 1

  17. I don’t know about this. I just can’t call Wozz world’s best player, or world number 1. Her no.1 feels simply incomplete.In the past, players needed to constantly win matches against top player(s) in THE biggest tours (GS) in order to become no.1(Monica Seles).You will be THE best if you beat THE BEST, that’s completely fair. I will call her world number 1 only if she wins a Slam by beating either Kim,Serena,Justine,Venus… You can’t call her the best when there are objectively better players than her(let’s be honest). She is WTA’s number one, not world’s number one. Just to say that I absolutely have nothing against Caro and I hope she proves me wrong in the future.I just desperately want to see a young player ruling the tennis world (literary), like Seles,Graf , or Serena did.Wining 2-3 Slams a year, beating your arch rivals in the finals…

  18. Well, I would not to see her “ruling the tennis world” like Serena supposedly does. Off-sick more often than not, that’s not much fun for me.
    The players like Seles, Graf did what Caroline does now (except for less success at grand slam) – they played the TOUR (just look at the stats), not only grand slam tournaments. If they did focus only on that, who knows, they could have won a double amount of grand slams. When they were at the top none of the slam-less people had a chance to overcome them because they played well consistently.
    At mens tour top players pull their weigh all the time which is why it’s all more competitive and more appealing to watch. At womens the players without a slam perform better than those who have it, which is quite bizarre, to be honest.
    Ok, Kim has a child and Justine is sice, that’s understandable. But what about Svetlana, Maria, Williamses? They won only a few tournaments each and then either did not cope physically or just did not play well. Not quite an ideal picture of the cream of the crop.

  19. A little correction to the first sentence so that it actually makes some sense: …”want to see her ruling the…”

  20. Yea, Caroline (who has never beaten a Major champ) showed how much she deserved to be number 1 today in her match with Clijsters.

    Yea, she’s really the best player in the world up there with other former number 1’s not headed to the Hall of Fame like Safina, and Jankovic. (rolls eyes)

    Majors market the game and pay for the rest of the tournaments. There are 4 per year. If you can’t win those. Or at least the season ending championships you might want to consider the ranking system.

  21. Caroline wozniaki,you don’t deserve world number one, cause you never win a Grand Slam Title.You gained a lot of points cause you keep playing even small tournament.,unlike Serena she only play for big tournament and up to now both sister still on top ten for years.I’m not picking on you/ being funny or rude, just speak the truth.look Dinara safina,Jelena jankovic became world number one but never win a single grand Slam.Now they are paying the prize always ill cause they keep playing for small tournament.Anyway congratulation!

  22. Since the topic has expanded a bit, it’s interesting to note that Wimbleton was the last tournament that both Justine and Serena played before retiring for the season due to injuries, YET hardy anyone complains about Justine retiring after only playing 8 tournaments, (only 2 more than Serena).

    I’m a fan of both players and will point out that Serena did win 2 majors this year while playing a limited season and that’s accomplishing a huge task. Ask Dementieva how important even winning 1 slam is and she competed well at the highest levels for a decade.

  23. what has Caro being no.1 got to do with Serena,its as if Serena didnt want Caro to be no.1.I think every player has their own schedule and Caro s schedule has made her no.1 and Serena is injured what do you expect her to do.Its as if the tennis world didnt want Serena to be no.1 but Caro in their eyes is more acceptable,the eurosport commentators are giddy with Caro at no.1 and say all kinds of denigrating words about Serena and that includes you Mariya.

  24. Helen25, people are discussing Serena’s tournaments more because she was ranked No.1 despite not playing for a long time.

    Fyoto, you constantly attack me about Serena, and I don’t see why. I was actually defending her in disputes with some readers regarding her status of a champion and her good role in current women’s tennis.

  25. I had written this e-mail during the 1st week of October so the later tournaments are not included.

    Wozniacki has been playing well the last month but is she still a level or two from the top? Looks like Woz may make it to number 1 before she defeats a top player.

    WTA site stats reveal Woz has defeated only 4 players in the top 10 from the start of 2010 through Tokyo and two of her victories were in the last tournament. Restated, Woz defeated only 2 players (Radwanska & Schiavone) ranked in the top 10 during the 1st 9 months of the season. Caroline looks like another Safina, although I believe a better player with her mental game intact. Has a much better PR game as well.

    Here are Woz’ victories this calendar year (thru the 1st week of Oct) by ranking: 34, 76, 28, 30, 76, 36, 19, 23, 8, 117, 30, 35, 49, 72, 30, 33, 52, 76, 49, 18, 125, 61, 55, 78, 56, 32, 15, 53, 89, 32, 85, 78, 41, 74, 51, 72, 7, 52, 20, 16, 45, 21, 13, 19, 9999 (not ranked in the top 1000), 77, 84, 17, 45, 109, 20, 9, 11, 10.

    Where are the real tennis players? Woz has yet to beat the Williams sisters, Henin, Clijsters etc

  26. Aztec Greg, you did quite a bit of work to make this list! Thanks for sharing it!

    But still, it’s not easy to defeat so many pretty highly ranked players, 30s and 20s. Yeah, the biggest guns are missing… still I respect Caroline.

  27. I don’t see the reason why degrade her opponents just because of their lower ranking. Is it her fault that higher ranked players rarely made it far enough in a tournament? No!
    Any player who gets to the final of a tournament is one of the two who had played the best during an event.
    By this logic Serena’s defeat of Henin at Australian Open is not a notable achievement since Henin’s ranking at the time was 9999. LOL.

  28. I totally agree with Aztec Greg’s comments from Nov 11. Volumn of tournaments doesn’t necessarily mean quality. Though she’s early in her career and those like Serena, Kim, etc. are toward the end of theirs, her time may come and when she starts consistently winning against Serena, Kim, etc (before they retire) then I think No. 1 would be more deserving… she’s got to get the semi’s and final’s in the majors first.

  29. if they are true number ones then then should have no trouble defitinting Serena or Venus or Kim its not how many points you gat that count its how well you play at any given time that makes you a number one you cant be the best when you dont play against great players

  30. I couldn’t disagree more. The author might have slipped under the radar, except that he showed his bigotry when he insanely suggests that he’s “not sure” whether Serena was injured when she not only had surgery on her FOOT but had a life-threatening blood clot to boot!Who the heck is HE to “doubt” that she might have had complications or that her body still needed to work into that pace?!? White supremacists make normal people’s blood boil! Serena Williams has been one of the few players to have often played both singles AND doubles at the SAME major tournaments and won BOTH at the SAME tournaments! That is not a “lazy” player compared to others. That is the HARDEST working player! The level of competition DOES count. Martina Hingis ruined her feet trying to play keep away with her # l ranking to try to keep the Williamses from getting it! Hingis played every little tournament in Podunk, while the Williamses were better able to pace themselves. I see no reason to try to FORCE independent players to play when they are injured. That is ludicrous. Serena and Venus used to play more when they were injured until they got some sense. LOL You only have ONE body. Not giving it a chance to heal is just plain dumb on Caroline’s part — and she may live to regret it! That’s IF she’s actually “injured,” to borrow the article writer’s snark!


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