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No rest for hard-working Wozniacki

8/24/2010

No one weathers a storm like Caroline Wozniacki. In Montreal over the weekend, she played two games of her semifinal against Svetlana Kuznetsova as scheduled on Saturday before rain washed out play. And when she finally got back on the court after two days of constant weather updates and attempts to resume, she still finished off Kuznetsova with a smile on her face. A few hours later, she defeated Vera Zvonareva for the title.

But Wozniacki had no time to celebrate winning the biggest title of her career. While pullouts for the event in New Haven, Conn., this week were being announced, including Ana Ivanovic (ankle injury), Mardy Fish (played the final of Cincinnati on Sunday), Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (hip injury) and Sam Querrey (no reason given), Wozniacki was responding to followers on Twitter that of course she was going to show. The Montreal champion headed straight to New Haven following the final to play in the last tuneup for the U.S. Open.

Can you see any other WTA tour player making such a move? Given that she played two matches in Montreal the day the Pilot Pen began and that the U.S. Open starts Monday, she certainly would have been forgiven for skipping New Haven. But instead she has already won a match to reach the quarterfinals there. Other title winners this summer -- I'm talking to you, Kuznetsova, Victoria Azarenka and Querrey -- have lost right away after winning titles.

When questioned about her choice in Montreal, Wozniacki said she just enjoys competing. "I like to play matches," she said. "It's much more fun than practices, and especially if you are winning." It also can't be overlooked that the Dane is the two-time defending champion at the Pilot Pen, and she loves New Haven. She's even said she'd one day like to attend Yale.

Yet another factor in her decision might have been her standing in the U.S. Open Series -- and the potential bonus payout. After her quarterfinal win in New Haven, Wozniacki is in the lead, and the women in second and third place are taking this week off to rest up for the Open. If Wozniacki improves on her runner-up showing from the U.S. Open last year, she'll take home $2,700,000.

That's not bad, and not too far-fetched, either. With the absence of Serena Williams, the women's U.S. Open this year calls to mind the 2008 French Open. That was when four-time champion and world No. 1 Justine Henin announced her immediate retirement from tennis just weeks before she was set to defend her title. Henin left a massive void at the top of the women's game, especially at Roland Garros, where it was anyone's Slam. With Henin off the tour, Ivanovic, an established top-5 player and true contender at that time, stepped up to win her first Grand Slam.

Wozniacki has the determination and experience to do something similar at the Open this year. "I feel I've definitely got more experience and I know how it feels to be in a Grand Slam final," she said, looking toward the Open in Montreal. As long as she doesn't get burned out from all this play before the Open -- as she seemed to before the French Open while nursing an injured ankle -- she has a real shot. If she wins, let's just hope she can keep a smile on her face, and her serve on the court, longer than Ivanovic did after winning the French.