Wozniacki criticizes WTA Premier 5 penalty rules following Toronto defeat

by: Matt Cronin | August 14, 2015

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The world No. 5 feels good physically now but would have wanted to skip Toronto. (AP Photo)

After losing to Belinda Bencic in her opening-round match at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, world No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki said she shouldn't have played at all this week, but did not want to incur WTA penalties. She was coming off an opening-round loss at Stanford where she had said that, "Physically, I wasn't 100 percent." Wozniacki's left calf was sore and her leg was heavily taped during her 7-5, 7-5 loss to Bencic.

"I think the WTA, they're like we want the players healthy, we want them to play at their best level at every tournament," she said. "And that's good, but the fact that they're pushing you to play whenever—if you are not feeling 100 percent is not okay. I haven't practiced for a week because I wanted to make sure that I was 100 percent healthy, and I went out there and actually my leg and my back is feeling pretty good, so that's good. But [against Bencic] was the first time that I've practiced for a week. And normally I'm like, I want to be able to play up to my best tennis, and you're not going to do that if you don't practice.

"But the rules if you're a Top 10 player are so that this was my commitment tournament, you're forced to play. If you don't, you get huge money fines. You get zero points to your ranking. Plus they wouldn't allow me to play small tournament in this half of the year, which is crazy."

WTA rules require Top 10 players to play four of the five Premier 5 events, which are Dubai, Rome, Toronto, Cincinnati, and Wuhan. For Wozniacki, a withdrawal would have meant a $25,000 fine, a zero-point event on her ranking, as well as further penalties if she did not fulfill media and publicity obligations. Her ability to play smaller, International-level tournaments would also be affected if she did not play four Premier 5 events during the season. Top names usually receive appearance fees at the International events.

However, Wozniacki would still be allowed to play International events if she had withdrawn from the tournament, but shown up on site and fulfilled publicity obligations. According to the WTA, she would also not have been fined.

Players also receive bonus prize money for playing Premier 5 events. For Wozniacki, it would be $100,000 for playing four of the events and an extra $25,000 for playing all five events.

Wozniacki, according to the WTA, is entered in all five Premier 5 WTA events. The Dane used to be on the WTA Player Council, but said she stopped because the tour would not move on changing the rules.  

The 25-year-old said that in Toronto, she felt better on court for the first time, but would not look back on whether she should have played Stanford.

"You can always look back and say, something could have changed, but at the end of the day, right now I'm just looking forward to the next one, because I'm feeling good," Wozniacki said. "My body is feeling good. So that's the first day I can say that. And even after a match [against Bencic] my body is feeling good. So I'm excited to get a lot of practice in, and hopefully a better tournament in Cincinnati and the U.S. Open. I'm just happy that finally my body is showing signs of improvement and I can go from here." 

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