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TECH Talk: Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki has her eyes set on the US Open
The Dane's comeback will begin in earnest at the hard-court events in Montreal and Cincinnati.
Published Aug 03, 2023
FLASHBACK: Watch as Caroline Wozniacki reacts to her teenage self.
Caroline Wozniacki turned pro in 2005, climbed all the way to the top of the WTA rankings, claimed a major title along the way, and retired three years ago, citing injuries, illness, and her desire to start a family.
Nearly two decades later, the Dane, now a mother of two, is back. The former world No. 1 announced her return to tennis in an essay in Vogue magazine in June, and has accepted wild cards to events in Montreal and Cincinnati before also competing at the year's final Grand Slam, where she's reached the final twice.
If Wozniacki is going to make a deep run at these events in her second chapter on the WTA tour, her game needs to be at the highest level it’s ever been. She’ll need to dust off the racquet bag, regrip her Babolat, and get cracking on those high backhands.
And the Dane's two-handed backhand, where her left-hand is dominant, is Grand Slam-winning material. In 2018, the year that Wozniacki took home the Australian Open title, she only made 3.9% of her unforced errors from her backhand, while a third of the tournament averaged more than 10%.
Wozniacki’s backhand, upon first glance, is ordinary. Her right hand holds the racquet with a continental grip and her swing pattern follows the ideal motion to generate pace and maintain control.
Taking a closer look at the technique, it becomes clear that her left hand is steering the shot. Holding the racquet with a semi-western grip, her backhand becomes a second forehand.
Her left hand drives the shot while her right hand controls the racquet.
Most players view their forehand as offensive and backhand as defensive. They learn to run around the backhand to hit as many forehands as possible and adjust their serving position to make sure the first shot after the serve is, you guessed it, a forehand.
But when you have a backhand that is built on the foundation of a forehand, that tennis mentality is tossed aside.
With her left hand in a semi-western grip, Wozniacki treats the backhand with the same respect and mindset of a forehand, allowing her left hand to dictate the shot while her right hand guides it for accuracy.
This grip also makes it easier to generate topspin, and with her level of control, this means that her cross-court angles are ones to watch.
Tennis is not and never will be a forehand show. It’s built on groundstrokes—forehands and backhands—that will determine the foundation of a point and the nature of its outcome.
Preferring one over the other is normal; every player has reliable strengths in their arsenal and weapons of choice. But that doesn’t mean they can neglect everything else in hopes that the match will only need the strengths.
Truth is, as much as players have their strengths, they can’t predict if they will be of use in their matches. It’s best to treat every part of the game, every shot, with the same respect and train them well in order to be best prepared for any opponent.