Head girl Wozniacki ready to graduate
Great Dane in making has the Hingis touch
Sunday 09 July 2006
Judging by the size of her smile, Caroline Wozniacki will probably have a cracking 16th birthday party on Tuesday. She already has the perfect present to show off to her friends in the form of the Wimbledon Girls' Singles Championship trophy she won yesterday.
Wozniacki has been creating such a stir at home and throughout the tennis world that she already knows there will be no plan to defend her crown next year, even though she is young enough to defend her title another three times. The 15-year-old Dane plans to graduate on to the full women's tour after playing the juniors at the US Open at the end of next month.
Wozniacki is a leggy blonde, who already stands at nearly 6ft tall and boasts four main sponsors. She has, however, based her game on the touch and talent of her idol Martina Hingis rather than the big power-hitters of the modern game.
The No 4 seed displayed a full array of shots on a fairly well-attended Court Three in a 3-6 6-1 6-3 win against gallant opponent Magdalena Rybarikova, of Slovakia, seeded six.
But the progress of Wozniacki will probably not herald a run of Danish talent sizzling into the upper echelons of the women's game. Wozniacki was almost embarrassed to admit there is so little opposition at home she has to practise with the professional men to improve her game.
"There is no one else coming through in the Danish juniors so I am really happy to have won such a big event," Wozniacki said. "I really can't believe it and I'll now have a double party back in Denmark for my birthday.
"My aim is to play some senior events, get up the rankings and be back here in the women's next year. I would like to think I can do it playing like Martina; thinking on court and using clever shots and tactics rather than just power. But at the moment I am so happy and so excited I can hardly take in that I have won Wimbledon. I was surprised even to be in the final."
Another happy tall blond won the boys' singles. The honour went to 6ft 2in Thiemo De Bakker, who became the first ever Dutch winner of the event. No 1 seed de Bakker defeated Polish qualifier Marcin Gowron 6-2 7-6 (7-4) in front of a packed lunchtime Court Two crowd.
De Bakker's hero and role model, like Wozniacki's, is also a good choice. The 17-year-old wants to emulate Roger Federer, a player he hopes to be challenging in the men's game in the not too distant future, having immediately announced his plans to quit the junior circuit for the men's tour.
He said: "It is a very special feeling to be the first Dutch winner here, but now I have to try and do it in the seniors. This might be my last junior event, I'm not sure yet. I have spent the last year working on my physical strength so I can be strong enough to compete at the highest level.
"I used to get trouble with cramp but I have shown to myself over the past two weeks that my hard work in the gym seems to have solved that."
De Bakker, who feels more at home on the slow red clay-courts, now hopes to become the next big tennis player to come out of Holland. There is currently only one Dutchman, Raemond Sluiter, in the world's top 100, a far cry from the times when players such as Sixties and Seventiesstar Tom Okker and, more recently, Paul Haarhuis were regular contenders in the big events.
Richard Krajicek, of course, won the men's singles here in 1996, breaking up Peter Sampras's reign as King of Centre Court. Sampras won the three preceding and three following men's finals.
De Bakker's feat yesterday marks a good start, but only time will tell if can achieve a fraction of that success in a man's world.
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