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Caroline Wozniacki might be ranked No. 1 in the WTA, but good luck finding someone who believes she's the best player in the world right now. Or that she has even an outside shot at winning the U.S. Open beginning next week.
"I just watched her play," ESPN commentator John McEnroe said of Wozniacki in a conference call with reporters. "I'm totally baffled as to what is going on. She looks like she has absolutely no confidence right now.
"She's playing so poorly and so tentatively that something's going on that I'm not aware of that is causing her, that she doesn't seem to be focused in on what she's doing right now."
Wozniacki was defeated in her opening matches at the Rogers Cup in Toronto and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati the past two weeks. Her losses were to then-No. 22 Roberta Vinci and No. 76 Christina McHale.
Of course, Wozniacki knew her game was in trouble even before this recent run. After losing in the third round of the French Open and the fourth round at Wimbledon, she dumped her father, Piotr, as her coach.
In a news conference Sunday in advance of the New Haven Open, where Wozniacki is a three-time winner, she declined to discuss the coaching change or even reveal the name of her new coach.
Maybe the view from atop women's tennis has been too much for Wozniacki to handle. She solidified her standing at No. 1 with a strong start to this season, and Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters have battled injuries. But Wozniacki has not won a major to demonstrate that she is the best player in the women's game.
A drop in the rankings might not hurt at this point.
"I think the worst thing that ever happened to her was getting to No. 1 without winning a major," ESPN commentator Patrick McEnroe said. "I think it just caught up to her, all the questions. Initially, she tried to handle it and just sort of brush it off. It's not her fault she got to No. 1, it's the system's fault. So she won a lot of matches. She was very consistent.
"But the bottom line is that Serena is injured, Clijsters played here and there. So, to me, [Wozniacki] was never the best player. But that doesn't take anything away from the fact that she won a lot of matches and got to No. 1."
McEnroe added, "But I think now it's getting to her. She'll probably be a lot more comfortable when she falls to five or six in the rankings. She'll probably start winning more matches again."
This week in Serenation
A sore toe knocked Serena Williams out of the Western & Southern Open, but it didn't stop her from showing up at the wedding of Kim Kardashian and the New Jersey Nets' Kris Humphries in Montecito, Calif., on Saturday with her sister Venus.
As for the toe, Williams tweeted that it's not going to prevent her from playing in the U.S. Open: "Guys! Ill be OK!!! Be at the US open! I wanna be there just as much (more) as uguys want me to! :) I'm already doing better."
Although ranked No. 29 this week, Williams is likely the favorite at the Open, along with Maria Sharapova. Williams won the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif., on July 31 and the Rogers Cup on Aug. 15 before pulling out of the Western & Southern Open with the toe injury last week. Sharapova won the Cincinnati event, moving up to No. 4 in the rankings.
Venus Williams isn't likely to be much of a factor in New York, though. She skipped Toronto and Cincinnati, her only two events before the Open, with a viral illness, and hasn't played in a tournament since losing in the fourth round at Wimbledon in June.
"The way it's going, you can't just, at this stage, this late, be able to just step in and be able to do that," John McEnroe said. "Not only is it difficult just from lack of match play but just to remain healthy for a whole event. She's got to get out there more consistently, I think, at this point if she really wants to do something big or even have a chance of that."
Looking for a dark horse at the Open? Former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, who lost to Sharapova in three sets in the Cincinnati final on Sunday, likes her game right now. "I want to believe that I can go far," she said in her postmatch news conference. "I've been a finalist over there. I was a semifinalist, quarterfinalist over the years, so I have good results in the past, and I love playing over there. I think it's a pretty special place. It brings, I think, the most out of me when it comes to Grand Slams." This week's Twitter highlight comes from Sloane Stephens (@sloanetweets), with the philosophy of an 18-year-old tennis player: "when you look good you feel good, when you feel good you play good, and when you play good, they pay good." How do you turn Sabine Lisicki into the worst server in tennis? Make her close her eyes.