Friday, March 02, 2018

Piotr Wozniacki: I consider myself as one of the best coaches in the business today.

My translations of these two pieces by @johasger: Piotr: Caroline has the same mentality as Federer and Serena and Piotr Wozniacki: I'm one of the best coaches in the business , which are translations, approved by Piotr Wozniacki, of this Polish piece Piotr Wozniacki: We still are hungry for more.

Piotr Wozniacki on keeping motivated:

"In our case, there's no grounds for worry. Our motivation hasn't dipped in the slightest after Melbourne.

"The latest success is the result of many years of hard work. It wasn't unexpected. We're enjoying it, but we've also prepared ourselves for it.

"Caroline has the same mentality as Federer and Serena. She won't rest on her laurels When she's won one title, she wants the next one, and the next one. As well as I know her, she's not someone who wants to end her career any time soon. And I also have dreams and ambitions as a father and coach."

Grandchildren can wait?

"My son [Patrik] already has child, so I already have a grandchild. My daughter and her fiancé will decide themselves when her sport career is over and it's time to turn the tempo down. He was a top athlete and can help with that sort of decision.  I'm not going to interfere in their lives. I'm ready for the day when she comes up to me and says, 'Dad, I'm quitting. We have other priorities now. I'm not going to try and put pressure on her or talk her into to changing her mind."

Your daughter is happy?

"Yes, she's happy. As a family, we've understood how to find the right balance in our lives. Tennis hasn't destroyed it. We're still on the same wavelength. The sun still rises and sets after the Australian Open and first place in the rankings."

On being one of the few parent coaches who's managed to stay close to their kid for so long:

"As a coach I've learned a lot and have matured. I made mistakes in the beginning, and I see clearly what I could have done better. I never played professional tennis. I was a footballer. But today I'll rather immodestly claim that I'm one of the best coaches in the business. I have an enormous amount of knowledge today.

"Tennis is in my eyes one of the most complicated of the modern sports. It's a puzzle with many small pieces. In the beginning, we based things on a lot of good intentions, but not always as much sense. But Caroline has so much determination, discipline and fire in her that she got through that difficult period in one piece.

"She didn't rebel and question my decisions. She trusted me. She tried to do what I asked of her, even if it was sometimes unnecessarily up hill. Thanks to that attitude, she is where she is today."

You don't have any coaching papers ...

"I have something you don't get with diplomas: the experience and skills that allow me to work at the top level. I can analyse and manage a team. We took care of the basics years ago. Any real estate agent will tell you that the value of a house is based on a solid foundation. Caroline has that. I'm sure of it."

Looking at your reactions during a match, you seem to be an excellent psychologist.

"The line between father and coach is very thin. You can get close, but never cross it ... What I'm talking about now you can't learn at any university. After so many years, I know when to keep a stone face, and when to go on court with strong remarks."

Today she's a Slam winner.

"We've waited a long time for this win. Maybe the next one will come a bit quicker. We'll se. I'll always remember the words of my neighbour Wojciech Fibak (top Polish Player) when he spoke with me for the first time about Caroline. He was honest about what he saw as her strengths. He didn't see the same good hands as Radwańska, but saw a talent for hard work. If every year we could make her stronger and physically add a couple of percent, she'd reach the top.

"We've never gone to extremes. We've never crossed the river looking for water. We've believed in what we did. And the good advice from the pioneers is just as valid today."

Friday, February 02, 2018

Caroline Wozniacki's career as a drama in 4 acts by @AndersHaahr

My translation of this Zetland article by the Danish tennis aficionado, author, gender researcher and Eurosport tennis commentator Anders Haahr Rasmussen.

After a decade of ups and downs, the tennis player Caroline Wozniacki won the 2018 Australian Open. It wasn't just the accomplishment that was in itself remarkable. It was also remarkable because her story reminds us so much of a classical evolutionary tale we know from the world of great narratives. Here is Wozniacki's career in four acts, narrated by tennis aficionado Anders Haahr.

You've likely noticed that the tennis player Caroline Wozniacki won an important tennis match on the weekend. You likely don't have the big picture of what makes the accomplishment so meaningful, or why it happened at this moment after a decade of ups and downs for the Danish tennis star. So Zetland now presents Wozniacki's career as a drama in four acts. Hollywood couldn't done it better.  What we're dealing with is so classical an evolutionary story that it draws parallels with everything from Lightning McQueen and the The Little Prince to the story of Parsifal and the Holy Grail.

So, without further ado:

Act One: Onward and upward (1996-2010)

On a summers day in 1996, Anna and Piotr Wozniacki, two Polish immigrants, were playing tennis in Køge. They had their daughter Caroline, just turned six, along, so she was exiled to the wall, where she entertained herself by hitting a ball against it. The ball kept coming back. She enjoyed it. It was easy for her. When she was seven, her father hired a private professional coach, and as an eleven-year-old, Caroline's week was constructed in such a way that she had free from tennis on Tuesdays, but otherwise played every day, often several times a day, with physical interval and quickness training layered on top.

Wozniacki's early years are characterised by an indomitable work ethic and an unspoiled joy of competing. The duel. No chance of a tie. You against me. One winner. Whomever or whatever little Wozniacki faced, however hopelessly behind she was, she ran and toiled and hit as if there was nothing more important in the world.

Everything was new and untouched. Wozniacki travelled around with her racquet in a bag like another Parsifal, who, from his upbringing in the forest, stepped out into the world naive and innocent. At the age of 14 she won both the senior Danish championship and one of the world's biggest junior tennis tournaments, the World Super Junior Tennis Championships in Osaka.

We're dealing with a teenager's self-confidence and vigour here, drawing nourishment from a wonderful, naive view of the world, a simple, one-dimensional understanding of reality that enables an undisturbed focus on the ball, on the next shot. Blinkers and the joy of playing combined.

Wozniacki won her first professional tournament in Stockholm shortly after her 18th birthday, and then New Haven, then Tokyo, every day a new place, new experiences, first-time experiences, fresh eyes, completely in the moment. At 19, she played herself to the final of the US Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments that tower over all others in prestige and prize money. And the year after she moved into the number one spot in the world rankings. There were no limits to what could happen. As the Swedish tennis star Mats Wilander formulated it in New York:

"Wozniacki keeps getting better and better. Where will it end? It's impossible to say. She's still playing tennis without knowing how good she can be. So she thinks she can win every match. There are no limits to her self-confidence. She hasn't realised her own limitations, which is simply the most important thing."

But Wozniacki would soon experience how difficult it is to be the best and get better at the same time.

Act Two: Stagnation and success (2010-2012)

The two seasons that Caroline spent as world number one are often described as the best of her career, a sort of high point against which all her subsequent accomplishments were to be measured. That's a misunderstanding. They were sad. Just as sad as they were unavoidable.

For just as Parsifal from the woods attained a position at the Round Table, Wozniacki now sat on the tennis throne. On the one hand, she accomplished impressive things. In less than a year-and-a-half she won 12 WTA tournaments: Beijing, Tokyo, Indian Wells, Dubai, Montréal, big titles in an amount no competitor was close to matching. She signed huge contracts with Rolex, Sony Ericsson, Turkish Airlines, Oriflame and Yonex.

But precisely the contract with Yonex illustrates the lost innocence.  Wozniacki was happy with her Babolat racquet. She was secure with it. She'd won with it. In the meantime, she'd become world famous. Yonex offered her a more lucrative contract, but, even though the Japanese sent off a small army of engineers to work with Wozniacki to build her a racquet as close to her old one as possible, she never became comfortable with her Yonex equipment. But she became rich.

At this point, the Dane was estimated to be the world's ninth most marketable athlete, and that was exploited. Her yearly earnings approached 80 million kroner (around US $14 million), of which a small part was, of course, prize money.

Wozniacki was still playing good tennis. And she lived high of the awe she was held in by lesser-ranked opponents. A pattern began to emerge: they came charging out on the court with great optimism and power. They hammered away at every ball, determined to hit through the wall the Dane was known to be. Then they hit their heads against it. Wozniacki got almost every ball back, and, before long, discouragement seeped into the opponents' faces and game. Attempts at winners became more and more desperate, and the number of unforced errors accumulated.

So Wozniacki held on to her number one spot. She held on to her game style. She stood still. As the ageing tennis player and creative artist Torben Ullrich put it:

"The temptation of winning is almost always there. But 'I would really like to become a better tennis player' really has nothing to do with winning."

From being curious and exploring her tennis life without expectations, Wozniacki became a sort of administrator of her own success. One knows this from authors who, after a commercial breakthrough, experience 'being a name' and subsequently sell millions of books on their name alone, but also experience a loss of freedom, because more of the same is expected.

Wozniacki fought to keep her number one ranking, fought to repeat her final at the US Open. The world was no longer new and her career was filled with worries. There was much at stake. Losing was expensive, literally. Time after time the question was asked: "When will she win a Grand Slam?"

How could she be the best in the world if she couldn't win the biggest tennis tournaments in the world? Wozniacki went deep – quarter-finals, semi-finals – but every time she ended up facing a player who wasn't intimidated by her, who wasn't afraid of hitting the ball, who wasn't afraid of losing. And when the match approached the moment of truth, when the bottom line was either hit or parry, act or react, gamble or wait, Wozniacki stayed securely behind the baseline and let her opponent decide the result.

At the Australian Open semi-final in 2011 she had match point against Li Na. Wozniacki hoped while the Chinese player acted, hammered a brave forehand down the line, fended off match point and won the match. The year after, in the quarter-final against Kim Clijsters, there was another illustrative rally. It was in the second set, the match was seesawing, the Belgian was under pressure and hit a high, soft shot that bounced in the middle of Wozniacki's half of the court. She had the initiative. Now she had to hit it, move forward, create, angle, win. Wozniacki sent a rally shot up the middle of the court, a nervous forehand seemingly motivated by fear of making an error. And, as she stood there at the net like canon fodder for the thunder of a passing shot that had to come – and did – one thought, with a mixture of despondency and pity: "What do you want, Wozniacki, what do you want with your shots?"

With the loss, Wozniacki fell out of first place in the rankings. It would be the beginning of a long downfall.

Act Three: Crisis and development

We've now reached the point in the story where the hero appears to have lost everything, like the racing car Lightning McQueen, that, on its way to a big and important race, is stranded in a hamlet, forced to repair a hole in the road. Or where Parsifal rides discouraged around in the woods, a highly ranked knight, but deeply depressed over having failed when the Holy Grail was withing reach.

Wozniacki had lost her footing on the tennis court. Her opponents had eventually sussed out the Dane's game. For years, all her matches had been played on the big courts, on TV, and her game hadn't developed very much. She started to lose, not just to her nearest competitors, but to secondary players like Vögele, Pervak, Qiang Wang and Begu. a Romanian, who, as a player ranked 96 should have been easy pickings for Wozniacki when they met in the Fall of 2012 in the first round of the US Open.

The Dane lost 2-6 2-6 after a match where she walked around the court with slumped shoulders, framed the ball, sendt routine backhands outside the lines and lost 12 of the last 13 points in the match. It was her career's poorest performance in a Grand Slam.

At this point in time, Wozniacki was beginning to experiment with new coaches. Each attempt to replace Piotr was shorter than the other. Ricardo Sanchez, Thomas Högstedt, Michael Mortensen, David Kotyza came in and out of the revolving door. The Swede Thomas Johansson coached her up to the US Open loss to Begu. He had this to say on the way back from Louis Armstrong Stadium:

"Caroline is a fantastic player, but she has to start believing in what we're working on. I'd gladly have taken a 2-6 2-6 loss if I'd seen her try and do what we're practising, but she pulls back. She stands three metres behind the baseline and just runs around. That won't work."

Wozniacki herself was taciturn when she met the press after the match. Begu had played a good match, she thought, but it wasn't an excuse.

"It was mostly about myself," said Wozniacki.

She said that she was happy working with Thomas Johansson, and that she was in relatively good form.

"I just need to ..." Her eyes were wet, the expression far away.

"I need to figure out what it is I want."

Wozniacki fumbled around confused. She changed her foot positioning on her serve. She tried to come to the net without really knowing when to do it. She ran a marathon. She dug out her old Babolat racquet, painted it black and played with at tat the 2013 Wimbledon. A disappointed, to put it mildly, Yonex leadership dropped their collaboration with her, and even with her old racquet she went out of Wimbledon in the second round. She went from making the round of 16 or better in 10 out of 11 Grand Slams tournaments to only doing it four times out 17 attempts.

Off the court, Wozniacki was dumped under intense media attention, after a three-year long relationship, by the golf star Rory McIlroy shortly after the wedding invitations had been sent out.

At the same time, her body began to fail. One injury came after the other: right shoulder, left wrist, the back, and especially the ankle, which she twisted so badly on an April day in 2016 that she had to withdraw from all of the Spring clay tournaments, including the French Open. When Summer neared its end, the Dane was down to 74 in the rankings and any thoughts of when she'd win a Grand Slam tournament had long been silenced.

Wozniacki's time was over, people said. They were wrong.

Act Four: Redemption

This is where the moral comes in. This is where we learn, like Lightning McQueen, that the most important isn't coming first over the finish line. This is where we learn, together with Parsifal, that the Holy Grail is within us. This is where we learn, together with Saint Exupéry's Little Prince, to appreciate the near relationships and the trivial wonders of everyday life, learn to rediscover the child's naive, open look. This is where Caroline Wozniacki discovers what is really meaningful.

Yes, we've seen the pictures of her as a little girl with braces on her teeth saying how, one day, she'd win the four Grand Slam tournaments. Yes, she'd be considered as one of the best tennis players ever never to win a Grand Slam. But, honestly, so what?

Wozniacki wrote a letter to her younger self, which was published up to the US Open in 2016. It's her attempt to try and convey some life wisdom, because she's learned a lot during her career.

"Well I’m here to tell you to breathe, young Caroline.


And she's there to remind her about what she thinks is so great about playing tennis to begin with: the match, the competition, the duel.

"Work hard. Find what you love and then be the very best you can be at it."

At this point, Wozniacki had experienced what it was like to be put on the sidelines away from the game, injured for months, long enough to come into contact with the realisation that one day it's over. It's telling that when you hear tennis stars like Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray talk about what they've missed from their injury periods, it's not the winds. They don't miss first and foremost winning big trophies. They miss the competition.

Tennis is really difficult. Being good at something very difficult is so satisfying, whether it's writing, carving, planting, caring or hitting a tennis ball. It is an enormous privilege to be allowed to get up every day and work at your craft, to make an effort, to do your best. It's a privilege one often first appreciates when one loses it. If one is lucky, the loss is only temporary.

Caroline Wozniacki was injury-free again when she wrote that letter. She was thankful in a way she hadn't experienced before about being able to play tennis. She had nothing to prove, even when she fell behind 0-4 at the US Open in the second round against the double Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. With her nose to the grindstone, Wozniacki won 6 games in a row and the match in two sets, and, for the first time in years, reached a semi-final.

It was to be the beginning of a year-and-a-half of the best tennis she'd ever played. Not because Wozniacki won one title after the other. She lost the first six she reached in 2017, lost without winning a set. It didn't matter; Wozniacki was doing the right things. Training and hard graft were no longer the means to goals of trophies and prize money. The daily work was the goal in itself. Of course she played to win – that's the premise for stepping out onto the court, but the results were secondary. Wins were byproducts of fulfilling the daily duties.

"If I work hard, then my time will come," we've heard her say again and again.

Now it was as if she knew that time coming wouldn't be in the form of a big triumph. Time is right here and right now. Feel it, enjoy it, it's gone in a short while. Wozniacki didn't have anything to prove any longer. She didn't have to achieve something. Which meant that she reached farther then ever before.

Firstly at the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore, where she beat four of the world's five best players, including Venus Williams in the final – the American legend whom Wozniacki hadn't beaten is seven matches. She didn't win because was calm. She won because she was brave. She had a purpose with her shots. She dared.

The experiments during those fumbling years –however hopeless they'd seemed – finally paid off. Development isn't a beauty contest. Just like the Karate Kid had painted fences and waxed cars – wax on, wax off – Wozniacki started serving more aces than ever before, hit her forehand hard and flat down the line, stayed at the baseline and dictated.

Now she's won a Grand Slam title. The nice part about the Australian Open win isn't that she suddenly became another tennis player. She was still herself, with her tendency to become afraid when everything needs to be decided. In the semi-final against Elise Mertens, Wozniacki was ahead one set and 5-4 on own serve, to points away from the win. Then she got nervous, played passively, served double faults, first one, then the other. Mertens broke back and five minutes later, the Belgian had two set points.

It was like the loss to Li Na in 2011 over again. Except that Wozniacki, this time, hit back, first with a serve wide followed up by a controlled backhand winner on the other side. Then a forehand out of nowhere, hit fearlessly into the corner.

The final against Simona Halep was a drama that deserves its own tale. After almost three hours in what approached tropical heat, Wozniacki could throw her catcher into the air, throw herself on her back and celebrate her biggest triumph ever. The tears trickled down her cheeks.

Wozniacki spent the rest of the evening and a large part of Sunday hugging The Daphne Ackhurst trophy and going from one TV studio to the other, doing photo sessions and press conferences. Over and over she said how happy she was never having to hear about being world number one without a Grand Slam title. But she knew the journalists wouldn't leave her alone.

"Now I'm just waiting for the questions: When will you win another Grand Slam?"

It doesn't appear that Wozniacki is particularly worried about it. She know she'll be working and fighting and playing many more wonderful, dramatic tennis matches that bring tears to spectators' eyes all over the world like last Saturday. Maybe she'll win more big titles. Maybe she won't. It doesn't matter so much.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

The shot no one saw coming - @AndersHaahr on Caroline Wozniacki's Australian Open win

From Information (paywall)

Anders Haahr is a tennis fan and author of Én bold ad gangen (One ball at a time) about Caroline Wozniacki's 2009 run to the US Open final),  writes about men, women and gender, tenni and commentates tennis on Danish Eurosport. He commentated Wozniacki's match along with Michael Mortensen on Danish Kanal 5.

Caroline Wozniacki's biggest win, the Australian Open, in a way summed up her entire career, and was a centimetre away from never happening.

It's Wednesday afternoon in Melbourne, 30 C and the sun is shining down on Rod Laver Arena, where Caroline Wozniacki is playing tennis in the second round of the Australian Open.

She's playing against world number 119, the Croatian Jana Fett, whom Wozniacki neither knows nor has heard of before this match, one of the many extremely talented tennis players who play on the edge of anonymity on outside courts and small provincial tournaments where they try and scrape enough money together to pay the plane ticket to the next tournament where the breakthrough is most likely not going to happen.

This is actually Fett's big chance. She's played excellent tennis for two hours and is ahead 5-1 in the third and deciding set, ahead 40-15 on own serve, two match points against the world star Wozniacki. Fett hits her first serve hard down the T. Wozniacki sees the ball is in. She's not close to reaching it.

You can manage to think a lot in a half second. Wozniacki manages to consider how she should spend the next week-and-a-half. Should she fly directly to St. Petersburg, the location of her next tournament? Should she hang around Melbourne, practise a bit under the summer Australian sun, or go back to her apartment in Monaco, spend a few days with her dog Bruno, away from the travelling tennis circus?

Then the line umpire calls, 'out!'. It turns out Fett's serve was a centimetre out. Wozniacki is still in the tournament. She wins the next two duels, wins the game and, a little less than a half hour later, the match 7-5 in the third set, after what the tabloids call a 'Crazy Comeback' Ten days later, she wins the biggest title of her career at one of the most meaningful tennis tournaments in the world, and one of the biggest accomplishments ever by a Danish athlete.

It could have been a match that changed the narrative of Fett's career. In stead, it changed the narrative of Wozniacki's. She explained herself that, as she hit herself deeper into the tournament with one more convincing win after the other, she felt like she had nothing to lose, that she was playing "with house money", a casino expression for gambling with money given to you.

The expression wasn't a coincidence. During the whole tournament, Wozniacki, along with her father Piotr and her fiancé, the retired basketball player David Lee, visited the casino at the Crown Hotel along the Yarra river in the middle of Melbourne, where they were staying. As Wozniacki herself might say, she gambles conservatively when she's at the table. We might say she plays conservatively on the court.

Time after time she's been in big matches with the big win in sight without going all in. Her game seemed to be negatively defined: she refused to lose. She got the most impossible balls back over the net. Her defence was grotesquely optimistic, while her offensive shots were marked by worry, their only goal being not to go wrong.

Wozniacki went a long way with that, and, at the start, it went well at the Crown Casino in Melbourne. Day by day she increased her winnings until, at one point, she was up $1,300. The symbolism was almost too heavy when she said before the final her luck had changed, and she was now down $200.

Freedom and light feet

Wozniacki has twice before been in a Grand Slam final, both times thanks to a combination of sensible play and good draws which helped her to meet unseeded players in the semi-finals. Both times she met an absolute top class player in the final‒first Kim Clijsters, then Serena Williams‒and was thrashed in two sets.

Saturday in Melbourne she faced the world number one, Simona Halep, a small Romanian from the harbour town of Constanta by the Black Sea, the daughter of football-happy dairy manager, and herself easily to keep a tennis ball in the air with her feet twenty times. Halep, like Wozniacki, had twice before been in a Slam final and lost. 168 centimetres isn't much for a tennis player, but Halep possesses the quickest, lightest feet on the WTA Tour, and a timing on her shots that allows her to change direction at will.

Tennis is often described as a combination of boxing and chess, a hard, physical duel that demands strategic thinking. The game follows patterns. Halep's doesn't. When she's at her best, she gives the impression of total freedom. She often goes onto the court with no plan. She sees what happens and adapts, plays herself free.

Her path to the final had been rough. In the third round, she played almost four hours against the American Lauren Davis. Halep was behind 10-11 and 0-40, three match points against her, before she fought back and when the deciding set with the grotesque result 15-13. Never before in the tournament's history had a women's match been contested with more games.

As if that weren't enough, she played one of the best, most intense matches in years when she defeated  the winner of the tournament in 2016, German Angelique Kerber, when, after blowing to match points, later survived two before finally winning 9-7 in the third set.

So Halep was the betting favourite going into the final. She was up to then the star of the tournament. Oddly, the Romanian is playing without a clothing sponsor. As number one in the world in a sport with global reach and advertising revenue in the millions, the Romanian‒whose contract with Adidas wasn't extended‒had to order her No Logo clothes over the internet.

Totally uncomfortable

Wozniacki stepped into the final nervously. The nerves disappeared after the first rally. Her father and coach, Piotr, was the last to talk to her in the dressing room. He said:

 "I'm really proud of you, whatever happens. Just go out there and show them your heart. Give it everything you have. Win or lose, I'm here afterwards."

Caroline Wozniacki started aggressively. She played quickly, and she played bravely. She hit half of her groundstrokes down the line, the the court is shortest and the net is highest. It wasn't because she felt relaxed and calm.

"At no point did it feel good," she said after the match.

It was an uncomfortable match. But, in contrast to earlier in her career, Wozniacki accepted the discomfort. She didn't crawl back to safety down behind the baseline. Or, well, she did. After winning the first set, she let Halep take the initiative and lost the second. After being ahead 3-1 in the third, she lost three games in a row.

Time after time, there were glimpses of the Wozniacki who refused to lose, but didn't dare gamble big to win. And time after time, we saw something else.

Behind 3-4 in the third set, Wozniacki played to 0-30 on Halep's serve by first ripping a cross court forehand and then doing the same after with a backhand. She got break point with a hard forehand down the line hit on the full run and with full risk.

The final was played in tropical conditions, 31 C, but it felt more like 40. The air was heavy and humid, even in the late evening hours. It was way past 10 PM when Wozniacki held serve to 5-4. Previous to that, there were two and three-quarters of an hour of one of the best finals of recent times: gripping, exhausting tennis that ended up sending Simona Halep to the hospital, where she was treated overnight for dehydration and had both feet MRI scanned before she was discharged in the morning.

Meanwhile, Wozniacki toured around all sorts of TV studios with the Daphne Ackhurst Memorial Cup in her hands, a trophy awarded since 1934 in memory of the tennis player of the same name who won the tournament five times between the wars before she died at the age of 29 from en ectopic pregnancy. It had been handed to her by Billie Jean King, who, in 1973 gathered 62 women tennis players in a hotel room in London, locked the door and said it would first be unlocked when all agreed to stand together in the fight for women's professional tennis.

"She's the one who gathered the dollars together," as Wozniacki recently said about King. "And then they played for a dollar."

"A strongly independent women, who fought for what she believed in, and that was equality."

Together with the trophy, Wozniacki received a cheque for the same amount of money the men played for the day after: Australian $4 million, 20 million Danish crowns.

Wozniacki got match point after a rally that summed up her career. Halep ran the Dane from side to side. Her fifth shot was an angled inside-out forehand that Wozniacki just managed to get her racquet on. The ball floated high and softly back to Halep, who hit a full volley shot cross court, but Wozniacki managed to reach it there, hit a forehand a bit too hard, so she didn't really have time to get to the backhand Halep hit to the other side.

Wozniacki reached it, of course, but she did more than that. She threw herself into the shot, into the two-handed backhand that had always been her strength, want all in with a short, angled backhand that Halep never saw coming. Which none of us saw coming. Which had never come before, except, it did now, finally.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Wicked Witch Wozniacki or bad Rory Round: you decide

Caroline Wozniacki is apparently one very powerful woman, judging from this blog article in .

The title of the site, Golfmagic gives a hint as to what this is all about.


Charlie Lemay thinks Witch Wozniacki has the amazing magical ability of being able to spell her fiancée Rory McIlroy into a leading position over three days of golf, and then, for some nefarious reason of her own, to cast him into abject failure on the fourth. 

So, what happened to suddenly turn Good Witch Caroline into Wicked Witch Wozniacki?  

"McIlroy was simply being taken out of his zone," writes Charlie Lemay. "On a number of occasions the TV cameras showed the pair having a chinwag."

Funny how Lemay didn’t notice that this happened in every single round – even the good ones.  

So, we are supposed to believe that Caroline kept Rory in his zone for three rounds, then decided enough was enough, and took him out of it.  Presumably just because she could, as Lemay never gives us any credible reason for Wozniacki’s strange behaviour.

He goes on: "Wozniacki was standing by Rory's side on the tee box, as the Northern Irishman munched away on an energy bar. Okay maybe that gave him a confidence booster to know he had his supporter and wife-to-be there alongside him, maybe giving him the gee-up for a big finish, but this is a former World No.1 we're talking about.
You could kind of see in Rory's eye that he'd rather she was standing behind the ropes some 330 yards away."

Rory was desperately trying to break the spell. Lemay can see it because he's writing for Golfmagic, and he knows magic when he sees it. 

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth," Sherlock Holmes said.
 Lemay apparently thinks it highly improbable that Rory McIlroy had a bad round of golf after one excellent one and two good ones.
 But Sherlock is right once again. The improbable is the truth. 
And the author of the piece is indulging in the time-dishonoured misogynistic practice of attributingsupernatural abilities to strong, independent women.
Strangely enough, I have never once read of Rory McIlroy being accused of taking Caroline Wozniacki "out of her zone" when she was eliminated in an early round of a Slam while he sat in her box. Not once.
But then Rory’s not a woman, and so he doesn't have mysterious and potentially evil supernatural abilities - just first-class golfing skills that occasionally fail.
It would be nice if Caroline’s first-class tennis abilities were given the same respect.
With thanks to Jewell for her invaluable comments and suggestions.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Janko Tipsarević and his search for The Truth

From Anders Haahr Rasmussen Èn Bold ad Gangen, Wozniacki, US Open 2009 - Danish 2010. Any errors are mine.

(pages 156-157)

I recently spoke to a tennis player who reads books rather intensively. His name is Janko Tipsarević, a 25-year old Serb ... Tipsarević use to read many books by the great philosophers like Nietzsche,  Kant and Schopenhauer, and if he didn't understand them, he re-read them again and again. He was pre-occupied with, as he put it, "searching for the truth." Not to find it, that would be impossible, but because the quest is a goal in itself. Immersion in them was hard work, he said.

"It was a real challenge for me to understand these guys. As a tennis player you have a lot of free time, but it wasn't relaxing for me to read those books. Many of them are really pessimistic, and there was always this struggle between religion and philosophy, and this whole search for the truth was very depressing," related Tipsarević, world number 64, and the only player with a quote from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot" tattooed on the underside of his forearm. "Beauty will save the world," it says.

The existential anguish made Tipsarević lose motivation. Not that Tipsarević lost the desire to play tennis; he loved playing the game. But it was difficult mustering that last burning, intense desire to win matches. Questions of wins and losses paled when matched against the great questions life posed.

"I didn't care if I won, and I didn't enjoy it very much when I did. Everything sort of got flat in a way."

(pages 158-159)

Janko Tipsarević asks fewer questions now. At the moment. he's reading a book about Sigmund Freud's anthropological perspectives. It's not easy reading, but reading difficult books is easier for him now.

"I'm taking it easy. Before, when I started a book, I wanted to finish it in a week. Now I read more slowly, and now I also read ... I wouldn't call them dumb, but more relaxing books, detective novels, Agatha Christie, The Da Vinci Code, whatever."

"This career we have doesn't allow you to look at things from more than one perspective. It makes life more complicated," he says, and points to the water bottle he has in his hand.

"There's nothing more to this water bottle than the enjoyment of drinking it. There are no other angles, nothing deep. I don't ask those stupid "why" questions any more like I used to. And it's really made my life easier, I enjoy it more, and you can see the effect on my tennis career. Because no matter how complicated this sport is, it's also very easy. There are rules you have to stick to, and completely without God or Truth, you know if you've done a good piece of work." 

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Wozniacki's Mother: Difficult and Confusing for Caroline

Translation of this article Feb.5, 2013

Changing coaches a couple of times didn't help Caroline Wozniacki last year. On the contrary, it confused her more than it helped.

That's the opinion of Anna Wozniacki, Caroline Wozniacki's mother, who has followed her daughter's career from the sidelines for many years, and noticed the difference last year.

"It was a difficult year, because even though Caroline trained and practiced really well, she didn't have the calm she needed. So she got confused a few times on the court. It was a waste of time, and a tennis career is too short for that kind of thing,"says Anna Wozniacki to Ekstra Bladet.

"Caroline is better technically than she was last year. We know what type of player Caroline is and what she has to improve, and we're working on it all the time. We did last year too. but it may take a while before she becomes a better player," is how Anna Wozniacki evaluates her daughter.

In 2012 both the Spaniard Ricardo Sanchez and the Swede Thojmas Johansson were let go as coaches for Wozniacki because the collaboration wasn't optimal.

"It was a learning experience for us.We got something out of it. We know now where we have to go and how to get there from now on," explains Anna Wozniacki.

The father Piotr Wozniacki is back as coach for his daughter, and that's the best solution, even if it has lead to some tough criticism, says the mother of the tennis family with the Polish roots.

"It wasn't fun for anyone in the family. But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. The tough criticism especially affected Piotr. He took it very personally.

"He began to doubt his own values and beliefs: When everyone says I should step down, maybe it's right. But now we know they're the right fit.

"After all, they've been through so much together. They've grown up together, and, in a way, they've grown together.

"With the temperament Caroline has, it isn't easy for others. I mean, she has to listen, and a mutual respect is necessary in any collaboration," explains Anna Wozniacki.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Piotr Wozniacki/Victor Krason

This is a translation of this web article as it appeared in the print edition

"I took the name to honour my grand-parents," says Caroline Wozniacki's father, as he lifts the curtain on a traumatic childhood and a strange name change.

For several years, Piotr has refused to explain why, since 2003, his name has been Victor Krason on all official documents. He's refused partly because he felt it was his own private matter, and he wasn't going to let himself be dictated to by people who - he felt - wished him no good.

It's led to myths making him almost a Mafia-like figure, so now he's decided to relate the personally sensitive story for the sake of his family.

It was his father's wish

For him, the most important thing in life is family, and it's for his family that he has the same name as his maternal grandfather.

"My father asked me to change my name when he was very sick and lay on his deathbed," he says, as his thoughts wander back 50 years, to when his biological parents, Tadeusz and Bozena Wozniacki, from Przemkow in Poland, delivered the baby Piotr to Bozena's parents, Victor and Zofia Krason who lived in Sulejon, 500 km away.

"My parents had it bad economically and they were very young. My mother was a teacher and my father a factory worker. The lived in one room. My grandparents were better off and wanted to help, so I grew up with them and called them mum and dad, because that's who I thought they were.

"It was a big shock when I found out differently at eight years old. One day there were suddenly two people at the doorstep who said they were my parents and now were taking me home."

"I made a mistake"

At the same time Piotr med his two year younger sister Teresa, and his life changed radically.

"I was still emotionally very attached to my grandparents, and I was with them as often as I could during the holidays. They'd been responsible for a large part of my upbringing and had given me many important values. The first time I really looked at my biological parents as my real parents was when I was an adult and had children.

"It was a bit taboo in my new home to talk about what happened. It was first many years later that they realised they'd made a mistake in letting me live with my grandparents for so long."

Tadeusz Wozniacki's last wish then, was that he should honour his maternal grandparents by taking his maternal grandfather's name.

"I'd mentioned the possibility of changing my name when I was 15 and had moved from home to a sports college. Later I did it, but probably made a mistake in not keeping Wozniacki as part of the name for the sake of the family. Then I'd have had both names and would have spared my family from all the wild speculations. I realised that later. But my children and my wife know the story and accepted the decision."

Family is the most important thing

His own traumatic childhood has led him to dedicate himself so extensively to his family, to his role as father and to keeping the family together.

"Anna and I came alone to Denmark, had an adult life and a family. We've used all our energy to help our children. Today I have a beautiful family with two happy children who are doing what they want to do.

"I think Patrik and Caroline matured early because we spent so much time with them and talked with them about everything.

"They've had close contact with their grandparents. Family is the most important thing in the world, much more important than money and status," says Piotr Wozniacki, who lost his mother during Wimbledon 2009
and last year (2010) had to leave Roland Garros to say goodbye to his sister, who was ill with cancer.

"When you changed your name, you were still a businessman who did business in Poland and Russia. Didn't you realise that rumours would start when you suddenly changed your name and didn't want to explain why?"

"But that kind of thing happens according to very ordinary procedures. Denmark has very clear rules about things like that. Everything's official. You can't even have double Danish-Polish citizenship. Why would people speculate about it? Everything's on paper if they're so interested," he says, and shakes his head.

"But you must have wondered why those rumours started?"

"I know that envy is a part of the life we lead. And no, I don't think that's especially Danish. Those kinds of people are everywhere, and you can't dictate what people think of you. Everyone calls me Piotr Wozniacki, but all who know me know my name is Victor Krason. There's no problem. But maybe I'll add the Wozniacki name for the sake of my family"