SINGAPORE -- After the Top 8 players of 2017 battled each other for over a week in Singapore, Caroline Wozniacki stands on top of the mountain.
The No.6-seeded Dane moved past fifth seed Venus Williams of the United States, 6-4, 6-4, to claim the title at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global on Sunday. Wozniacki wins the WTA Finals for the first time, besting her runner-up finish in 2010.
Wozniacki had to survive a stirring comeback from Williams in the second set. "I’m still shaking," Wozniacki said in her on-court interview after the match. "I was up 5-0, everything was going well, and all of a sudden, Venus just starts upping her game. She went for her shots, she started serving to my body, and I’m just so happy that I managed to win in the end."
Not only did Wozniacki win the WTA Finals for the first time, but she also beat Williams for the first time in her career, after seven previous losses. "Eight is my lucky number!" the Dane enthused. "I was hoping that if I’m going to beat her, at least once in my career, it has to be today. I just went out there and I just did my best."
Wozniacki played her exceptional mix of offense and defense to the hilt, hitting 19 winners to only eight unforced errors. Four of those winners were aces, extending her strong serving statistics she exhibited throughout the tournament.
Williams had a solid match as well, with 31 winners and a first serve percentage of 70 percent, but was unable to close out pivotal service games when she needed to at the end of both sets, and was broken two more times than Wozniacki, which was the difference.
The first three games went to the server with ease, and it appeared that Williams would continue that trend, jumping to a 40-15 lead in her service game at 2-1. But strong hitting by the Dane, including a superb passing shot, brought the game to deuce, and Wozniacki broke for 3-1 with a forehand winner.
Williams, however, broke back in the very next game with exceptional hitting off the forehand side. But Wozniacki once again went up a break, sealing a 5-3 lead with consecutive down-the-line forehand winners. Again, though, Williams came up with quality tennis, hitting four straight down-the-line winners, two from each side, to get the match immediately back on serve.
However, just when it seemed Williams had claimed momentum after an easy break, her forehand broke down, and a flurry of unforced errors off of that side gave Wozniacki the opener -- only the second set the Danish star had ever won off of Williams in their eight meetings.
It took a long time for the American to regain her footing after the loss of that set, and she quickly found herself in a huge hole. A Williams error off the backhand side gave Wozniacki an initial break in the second set, and another forehand error gave the Dane a 4-0, double-break lead.
After Wozniacki held for 5-0, it appeared that the match would be completed in an hour. But Williams began to demonstrate the solid play from her earlier wins over Karolina Pliskova, Garbiñe Muguruza, and Caroline Garcia. She broke Wozniacki for 5-2, and the march to a comeback was on.
Incredibly, Williams broke Wozniacki once more, slamming a forehand winner past a net-charging Wozniacki to pull back on serve at 5-4. Multiple powerful forehands by the American were too much for Wozniacki to handle in this game, and it seemed like that wing could propel her to a come-from-behind stunner.
But it was Wozniacki who bolstered her play, steeling herself with stellar defensive play to force errors from Williams. Another huge forehand helped Williams escape one championship point, but a backhand pass by Wozniacki on the second gave the Dane the biggest title of her career after an hour and a half.
Wozniacki is projected to finish the year ranked No.3, via a stellar year in which she reached eight finals, and won two titles, including the Toray Pan Pacific Open to go alongside her WTA Finals trophy. Her heroics in Singapore also makes her the season leader in match wins (60) and Top 10 wins (13).
More to follow...
This article was first seen on www.wtatennis.com.