It’s tough to believe that it has already been a full six months since we all rolled our eyes in unison upon Caroline and Piotr Wozniacki announcement of Piotr’s resignation from his coaching post. The eyes were rolling almost immediately, and every deflected ‘mystery coach’ question from the then-#1 brought more and more skepticism and criticism. But just as we had all but ceased to care about the Wozniackis and their Kardashian-esque PR stunts, they stole back attention by announcing that none other than Mr Ricardo Sanchez, Jelena Jankovic’s long time on-and-off coach. It was all about to change, right?!?1
Well, no. Not really.
I’ve never been a particularly big fan of the popular idea that Wozniacki needs to transform into a sparkling brand new aggressive player. Sure, it would be in her best interests to add slightly more aggression to her game, but so many make it sound like such an easy adjustment that can I almost understand why Wozniacki and co. have felt so pressured into her numerous recent PR fails. Almost.
The reality is that Wozniacki’s game is inherently flawed against her being more successful as a more aggressive player because she is not even close to being as great a mover or athlete as the likes of Clijsters, Jankovic, and the Williamses. Her great defence is almost solely the product of her brilliant anticipation, and it’s those notorious moonballs and her generally slow-but-heavy shots that give her the time needed to make decisions and move to wherever she needs to be on the court. Thus, her being more aggressive automatically has a detrimental effect on her ability to chase those balls down. That coupled with the gaping technical and mental flaws that also stop her from attacking, and Copenhagen, we have a problem.
All that said, the idea of Ricardo Sanchez entering the fore and (almost literally) whipping the Dane into shape was an encouraging sign. Despite forming a polarizing figure on the WTA, the Spaniard has more than proven pedigree on the tour. But evidently, they didn’t even give him a chance. I think it was clear from Wozniacki’s very first match in 2012 where this was headed. While he would scribble at least 4-6 A4 pages of notes down while borderline obnoxiously shouting and cheering Jankovic after every point, with Wozniacki he simply sat far in the background in complete, utter, irrelevant silence. And now? He’s gone for good.
I would use the rest of this post to scold Wozniacki and her team for reverting back to old ways so quickly, but from where I’m standing absolutely nothing has changed in the six months since talk of Wozniacki’s new coach was first muttered. If anything, there is ironically more pressure on the Dane now that she has dropped off the top spot than ever before. If the situation after Kvitova leapfrogged her at Wimbledon was worrying, then the rise of Azarenka - a long-term occupier of Wozniacki’s shadow - to Australian Open Champion and #1 must have put even more doubts and negativity into her head. She has now dropped from #1-#4, certainly one of the biggest falls from the top spot on either tour, and between now and the French Open she has an incredible 4000 points to defend, which could see her drop than anyone on the entire tour.
Wozniacki’s biggest weapon over the last year and a half has been her confidence, and upcoming period will test that steely confidence in every possible way. We’ll soon see how she reacts.