The big news for Caroline Wozniacki heading into 2014 is that she has a new coach, Thomas Högstedt, ex-mentor of Maria Sharapova. But this only brings up a big question heading into 2014: Will her stage father, Piotr, really surrender the strategic reigns over her career? It’s hard to imagine that the seasoned and successful Högstedt would put up with much fatherly meddling for long.
If the coach is allowed to coach, this should be good news for Wozniacki, whose defensive-minded game has needed a revamp for years, and who has never made the most of her athleticism. In 2013, she had success at smaller events and in the fall, but for the second straight year she faltered when the competition got tougher at the majors—the former No. 1 hasn’t been to the semis of a Slam since 2011. We’ll see if Högstedt, a famously no-nonsense workaholic, can get more out of her than Piotr has.
Ad-In: Wozniacki didn’t finish No. 1 two straight seasons for nothing. She has speed, consistency, brains, and a champion’s ego. Högstedt, according to Sharapova, had a big hand in bringing her back to the top of the game over the last three seasons. You have to think Wozniacki will show improvement with him, and that some distance from her father will help.
Ad-Out: It’s one thing to hear a new voice. It’s another thing to implement what that voice is telling you. At 23, Wozniacki is young, but she’s been on tour for seven years already, and her safety-first game will be hard to change without risking a drop out of the Top 10. If she struggles at first, how much patience will she and Piotr have?
As we approach the new year, we'll take a closer look at what's in store for the past year's top performers. To read more of our 2014 Season Previews, click here.