It’s been over 2 1/2 years since former world #1 Caroline Wozniacki reached the quarterfinals of a Major (Australian Open 2012). Since then, Sunshine has fallen out of the top 10, scarcely resembling the player that once sat atop the women’s tennis mountain. But if you follow the tour closely, then you knew this summer something was brewing. Her game was getting sharper. She’s training to run the New York City Marathon and you could see the improvement in her stamina. Maybe that’s what happens you drop 160 pounds over the summer (you know who I am talking about). Facing fellow former #1 Maria Sharapova in the fourth round of the US Open, Wozniacki showed off her improved fitness and all around game, taking down the 2006 US Open champion, 6-4 2-6 6-2. Sunshine’s serve is vastly improved. She’s moving forward more than in the past. She’s running down even more shots than in the past (and she was already really good at that). This could be a career altering win, if she keeps going. Sara Errani isn’t going to roll over and let Caroline just waltz through to the semis, but there is nobody left in the bottom half of the draw that Wozniacki can’t beat or wouldn’t be favored against.
Another former world #1 (albeit briefly), Jelena Jankovic, was denied her chance to reach her first Major quarterfinal since Roland Garros 2013 by the heat, the New York crowd and most importantly, 17-year old up and comer Belinda Bencic. I felt badly for Jeca, with the crowd calling out in the middle of ball tosses and the vast majority of the stadium firmly against her. But at the end of the day, it was Belinda’s precocious shot making that doomed Jankovic. There is a prime opportunity for Belinda or Peng Shuai to reach a Major semifinal. Their upcoming quarterfinal match-up isn’t what the prognosticators envisioned, but they are there with a golden opportunity.
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10 CAROLINE WOZNIACKI (won 6-4 2-6 6-2 vs 5 Maria Sharapova)
BELINDA BENCIC (won 7-6 (6) 6-3 vs 9 Jelena Jankovic)
13 SARA ERRANI (won 6-3 2-6 6-0 vs Mirjana Lucic-Baroni)