With the #1 ranking potentially up for grabs, Caroline Wozniacki begins her campaign for a maiden French Open against the USA’s Danielle Collins. Wozniacki has never been at her best on the clay, and the Dane has never before been beyond the quarterfinals in Paris. But playing in her first Slam since winning one in Melbourne, will Wozniacki reach new heights in France? Or will Danielle Collins, who is making her French Open debut, spring a big upset?
This will be a first meeting for the pair which is unsurprising when just how short Collins’ professional career has been is considered. The Floridian was competing primarily in NCAA rather than WTA competition until her graduation in 2016. Despite that, the 24-year-old has racked up a respectable record of 104 wins against 55 losses in her professional career so far. Those numbers do, however, pale beside Wozniacki’s, who has 592 wins and 28 titles, whilst Collins has yet to win a WTA title.
Last time out
Wozniacki’s form since winning the Australian Open has been a little lacklustre, which is understandable considering just how important that win was to Wozniacki. She did make the semifinals in Qatar and quarterfinals in St Petersburg and Istanbul. She made the same stage again in Rome, defeating Alison Van Uytvanck and Anastasija Sevastova to reach the last eight in the Italian capital, although she was well-beaten 6-3 6-1 by Anett Kontaveit there.
Collins played surely the best tennis of her career in March to reach the semifinals in Miami after coming through the qualifying. She backed that up with a quarterfinal showing in Monterrey and by qualifying into the main draw in Madrid and Rome, defeating Sorana Cirstea in Italy to reach the second round proper. Her efforts earned her a place in the top 50 for the first time, and Collins has certainly proved of late that she belongs on the main Tour.
How do they match up?
Wozniacki is a defensive baseliner of the first-rate. The Dane is an excellent mover and possesses solid groundstrokes, well accustomed to withstanding great pressure and retaining enough venom to bite back at opponents. Her backhand is her best shot, and at times Wozniacki takes the unusual choice of running around her forehand to hit a backhand. That is in part the result of her forehand being less reliable, but it is a shot that Wozniacki has worked hard to improve throughout her career.
Collins is not amongst the most powerful players on the WTA Tour. But the American is willing to take risks with her groundstrokes and more often than not of late they have been coming off for her. But, relying on accuracy to make up for a lack of outright power, requires the maintenance of a high-level of tennis, and will be made more difficult by the good depth and penetration to be expected from Wozniacki’s groundstrokes. Collins will have to play her very best tennis to pull off the win.
Collins has been hugely impressive this year in climbing the rankings and scoring big wins, particularly against Venus Williams in Miami. But beating the world #2 on a show court Slam is arguably an even bigger challenge, and it’s probably not one that Collins is ready for. Few ever are. Whilst Wozniacki may not be at her best in Paris, she does know how to win matches at Roland Garros, a skill Collins has not yet had the opportunity to develop. Wozniacki to win.