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Sunday, August 29, 2010
Caroline Wozniacki says top seed fitting

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Let others wonder whether Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki merits the No. 1 seeding at the U.S. Open, the first time she's been awarded the top spot at a Grand Slam tournament.

She harbors no doubts.

Wozniacki
Wozniacki

"Pressure is when you're put on the spot and you don't feel like you belong there, don't think you deserve to be there," Wozniacki said Sunday, a day before play begins at Flushing Meadows. "I think I deserve to be where I am, and I think that I'm feeling comfortable there."

She is currently No. 2 in the WTA rankings, behind Serena Williams, who pulled out of the U.S. Open more than a week ago, citing surgery to repair cuts on her right foot. The U.S. Tennis Association strictly follows the rankings when assigning seedings, so Wozniacki got the top spot.

That made her the first woman since Kim Clijsters in 2003 to be seeded No. 1 at the U.S. Open without already having won a major championship. The 20-year-old Wozniacki also is the youngest woman to lead the field since Maria Sharapova was 18 in 2005.

"You don't get there by luck or by wild card or anything," Clijsters said. "She definitely deserves to be up there."

Clijsters, of course, went on to win the tournament twice, in 2005 and 2009, while Sharapova wound up taking the title in 2006.

So Wozniacki figures her time will come, too.

"To win a Grand Slam, that's definitely a goal. You know, it's still seven matches away, and it's tough because everyone wants to win," said Wozniacki, whose first-round opponent is wild-card entry Chelsey Gullickson, the NCAA singles champion for the University of Georgia.

Last year in New York, Wozniacki reached her first major final before losing to Clijsters. That run, Wozniacki said, "gave me a lot of confidence and the belief that I could do it."

Recent results also should bolster how she feels about her game.

Wozniacki has won 14 of her last 15 matches and two consecutive tournaments, including a title at a hard-court tuneup event in New Haven, Conn., on Saturday.

Her four titles in 2010 lead the tour, and the 10 she's won since the start of the 2008 season are the most in that span. Her 44-14 record this year gives her the second-most match victories, one fewer than Italy's Flavia Pennetta.

"She's really improved a lot since the first time I played her, quite a few years ago," seven-time major champion Venus Williams said. "Really added some power into her game; moves very well; plays smart; really shows a lot of maturity on the court, both with her [shot] choice and mental capacity, hanging in there to stay tough. Really a nice, all-around player who can make anything happen on the court."

Wozniacki's style is not exactly what would be described as spectacular. She is something of a grinder, willing to engage opponents in lengthy exchanges at the baseline until a point ends when someone errs.

She prides herself on her footwork and fitness.

"For me, it's just about being smart," Wozniacki said. "I mean, there's no sense going for the winners if there is no chance to go for the winner."

If that approach can carry her to seven victories in seven matches at this U.S. Open, she will have a Grand Slam title to her credit and will overtake Serena Williams at No. 1 in the rankings.

"It's about playing well at the right moments, taking your chances, having a bit of luck, everything," Wozniacki said. "Everything just has to come together in these two weeks, and it's not easy. So we will just have to see what's going to happen."