Can Caroline Wozniacki's defence substitute lack of offense in her game? Our guest blogger Merlisa Lawrence Corbett doubts.
In American Football it's often said that the best offense is a great defense. But in today's modern tennis game, offense keeps your opponent on defense and those who attack dominate those who defend.
On the women’s tour, Caroline Wozniacki relied on defense to secure the No.1 ranking. But is her defense enough to win a Grand Slam?
Wozniacki’s game is a throwback to the play of Chris Evert, who beat her opponents through consistency, often counter-punching competition until they succumb to unforced errors. But Evert was at her best when most of her opponents also hung out around at the baseline or played serve and volley.
Today, with more athletic players and new racquet technology, the game moves faster and requires aggressive play. Players like Samantha Stosur attack the ball earlier and with greater accuracy. Against more offensive-minded players such as Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams, Wozniacki is often outmatched and overpowered. In fact, although Wozniacki won the most tournaments 2010, she didn't score victories over Clijsters, Justine Henin, Serena or Venus Williams.
Like former No.1 Jelena Jankovic, Wozniacki is a fierce counter puncher, whose ability to retrieve balls keeps her in points longer. But unlike Jankovic, Wozniacki does not possess a forehand that can absorb the firepower unleashed by the big hitters. Instead Wozniacki’s forehand falls apart against the heavy hitters and she seems at a lost when consistent retrieving fails to net her points. She sometimes retreats and resorts to defensive lobs that serve as target practice for players with powerful forehands.
Perhaps in the brief off-season Wozniacki developed some offensive moves. If not, she will be just another player in the series of recent slamless world No.1s.
Merlissa is a former sports writer and tennis junkie, and she wrote the foreword for Arthur R. Ashe, Jr.'s "A Hard Road to Glory: Track and Field". She plays in USTA League. (photos: Ralf Reinecke)