Serena Williams' French Open return will keep us on our toes, says Caroline Wozniacki

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki says that Serena Williams‘ comeback will force the current top-ranked players to raise their games at the French Open.

The former world number one will be looking to build on her long-awaited maiden Grand Slam triumph in Melbourne, but she has never reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros.

Despite being in the opposite half of the draw to three-time champion Serena, Wozniacki knows that Serena’s presence as an unseeded player will put pressure on her rivals.

“I think it’s always great to have the best players play, and it raises your level,” said the Dane.

“You have to play your best level, and I think having someone like Serena back, it’s keeping us all on our toes and we have to keep improving all the time.”

Wozniacki finally claimed her first major title this year, and admitted that it has lifted a weight off her shoulders.

“I think the biggest difference is really when I’m in here in the press conferences,” she said.

“I think that’s the biggest difference, because I’m not getting asked anymore, you know, what it takes to be a Grand Slam champion, why I haven’t gotten there yet.

Caroline Wozniacki 2

“It feels amazing to have that with me now, and hopefully I can build on that.”

Wozniacki is the second seed in paris, behind only Simona Halep, who she beat in the Australian Open final and is still searching for a Grand Slam crown.

The 27-year-old showed improved form on clay 12 months ago when she was beaten in a tight quarter-final by eventual champion Jelena Ostapenko.

“I think I have proven myself that I can actually play on this surface, and, you know, it’s all about trying to get the timing and trying to get the head right, really,” she said.

Meanwhile, top-seeded Halep thinks Serena is still capable of challenging for titles, as the American prepares to make her Grand Slam return in Paris.

Williams will be playing in her first major tournament since winning last year’s Australian Open, having taken time off to give birth to her first child.

Halep, a two-time runner-up in Paris, knows that despite a lack of time on court, the unseeded Williams could prove a threat.

“It’s great for tennis that she’s back,” said Halep yesterday.

“Maybe she needs a little bit more time to get again used to the tournaments and everyday playing.

“In my opinion… She’s able to come back and to win tournaments again.

Simona Halep of Romania

“She knows how to handle the pressure, how to handle all the situations. She’s (been) there for so many years. So I think she will come back and she will be good again.”

Williams, who opens her campaign with a first-round match against Czech Kristyna Pliskova, struggled on her return to tennis in March with early defeats in Indian Wells and Miami before taking more time off to get fully fit for Roland Garros.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion is joined in Paris by fellow former world number ones Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, with the trio playing a major tournament together for the first time since the 2016 Australian Open.

“I feel that now everyone is here (it) feels that the tournament is completed and everyone is here just to show that tennis is really nice and also that everyone can win it,” added Halep, who opens her campaign against world No105 Alison Riske.

“These girls are coming back, Vika (Azarenka), Serena, with the kids, which is amazing. Makes it a little bit different and also special.”

Most popular

Related Sections

Novak Djokovic confident he can rediscover best form ahead of French Open

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Novak Djokovic pictured training in Belgrade on Wednesday.

Novak Djokovic is confident his poor recent run of form will improve ahead of the French Open.

The former world number one, whose last Grand Slam crown came at the 2016 edition of Roland Garros, has struggled since returning to the tour at the start of the year and had surgery on his long-term elbow injury after the Australian Open.

More recently, the Serb, who has won 12 major titles, slumped to a shock defeat against Slovakian qualifier, World No.122 Martin Klizan, in the second round of the Barcelona Open – meaning he has failed to reach the last eight in any of the five tournaments he has played in 2018.

But, despite this, Djokovic believes his elbow problems are fixed and behind him, admitting that he has been playing virtually pain-free for the past month.

“I still want to continue tennis at the highest level. I am very motivated and I have always aimed high and this hasn’t changed,” the 30-year-old told reporters at his training base in Belgrade on Wednesday.

“I believe that things will sort themselves out very soon and I hope for some better results in the next few weeks.”

Djokovic added: “Basically it is now all about improving my fitness.”

Having split from coaches Radek Stepanek and tennis legend Andre Agassi last month, Djokovic has rekindled his relationship with long-time ally Marian Vajda – a man who has been a trusted figure within his team for many years.

Djokovic is scheduled to play the Madrid Open next week, where he has twice won before, and then the Italian Open straight after, according to his official website.

The French Open then commences on May 27.

Djokovic, who is currently ranked number 12 in the world, said: “We have made plans until the end of the clay season – three more tournaments ending with Roland Garros.”

“After that we will sit down again … and make further plans.”

Most popular

Related Tags

Ostapenko's coach Anabel Medina discusses lack of female coaches in tennis

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Ostapenko, Medina and their agent Ugo Colombini (via Instagram/@medinaanabel)

Anabel Medina started working with Jelena Ostapenko in Stuttgart end of April and less than two months later, her 20-year-old Latvian charge has become a Grand Slam champion.

Medina, a former world No16 in singles, who still competes in doubles, is one of just a few female coaches working on the tennis circuit. The Spanish describes herself as a “rookie coach”, but has no doubt caught the attention of many due to her successful start with Ostapenko.

Ostapenko, who has risen to No12 in the world on Monday thanks to her French Open triumph, is the highest-ranked player in the WTA being coached by a woman. Her mother, Jelena Jakoleva, is her main coach, and adding Medina to the team was an experiment that paid dividends immediately.

World No13 Kristina Mladenovic doesn’t have full-time coach per se but works with her mother Dženita Mladenovic, while No14 Madison Keys is coached by ex-world No1 Lindsay Davenport.

Still, female coaches are hard to come by on both the women’s and men’s tours. Medina, 34, believes women can be great coaches and it is not a lack of know-how or capability that is holding them back.

Ostapenko poses with her Roland Garros trophy.

Ostapenko poses with her Roland Garros trophy.

“In my case it’s like something amazing,” she told Sport360° of her brief but highly successful time coaching Ostapenko.

“The truth is there aren’t so many female coaches, but it’s not because we’re not able to do it. I think because maybe after our singles and doubles career, after a long time traveling on the tour, after that I think most women want to take a break and start a family and have kids and everything.

“So if they want to have that it’s very difficult to be a coach because you’re traveling for more than 30 weeks a year and with kids you can’t do that.

“So I think in my case I didn’t find this moment yet, because I’m still playing doubles, so I didn’t really feel that I want to be out of the tour so for that reason I started to try to be a coach. I think that’s the main reason why there aren’t so many women coaches on the tour.”

Prior to the French Open, the last women’s Grand Slam champion to be coached by a female was Marion Bartoli, who has Amelie Mauresmo in her corner when she won Wimbledon in 2013.

Medina’s initial agreement with Ostapenko was to help her during the clay season but they will now discuss whether they will continue their partnership.

For now, the Spaniard is still yet to fully comprehend their whirlwind fortnight in Paris.

“I think I haven’t realised yet what happened these two weeks and after I’ll understand everything. It’s very exciting, I’m also trying to feel what coaches are feeling because I’m a player and it’s different. It’s really nice and I’m really enjoying it. I think that after I finish playing completely, I found something that I really enjoy,” said Medina.

Most popular