When I was in high school I made my fair share of varsity teams. I can tell you that I never made those teams on the strength of my offense. I couldn't hit, I was too short to play front row in volleyball, and I was never a natural striker. But I could defend the shit out any sport I played. And I loved it. There was absolutely nothing I loved more than the look on my opponent's face when their "sure thing"...well...wasn't.
I say all this to give context to my ever-complicated relationship with Caro. I have absolute respect for the ability to defend. That shit ain't easy and it takes a certain mindset, one that I identify with, to do it well. This notion among tennis fans that she has no game, or she doesn't "do anything" is just annoying. If a player can't beat her, isn't that their problem? I can't see why it's her problem. And yet, that seems to be the book on her from a lot of fans. Every one of her wins is accompanied by fans pulling their hair out, whining about how Caro didn't win, the other player lost.
Believe me, I totally understand this response. It's totally my knee-jerk response, too. How many matches has Caro won where the post-match conversation didn't involve Caro? Hold on, let me count. 1...2...ALL OF THEM.
So consider this my plea for perspective. You don't ascend to #1 at 20 years old by just showing up and standing there with your hand on your hips. And credit to Caro, she has the right attitude in the face of her critics:
Q. Do you think it’s unfair when people criticize you or when people talk your game and they say, She gets lots of balls back, but she hasn’t got a big weapon? You’ve got to No. 1 in the world. Do you think that’s unfair when you hear people say that?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Um, well, if I don’t have a weapon, then what do the others have? Since I’m No. 1, I must do something right. I think there’re not actually criticizing me. I think the other players should be offended.
She's absolutely, 100%, nail on the head, right. I'm not speaking for anyone else but I'm pretty sure I direct my rage/annoyance/disappointment in the performance of my players at her. That's not fair but it happens. That seemed to be a tolerable position when she was just an up and coming top 10er, but she's in the penthouse now, and personally, it feels completely disingenuous and unfair to say that now. She rose to the top with that game. Be fair and tip your cap.
I mean, if you want to rip on her, there's always that drunk muppet voice.
Oh, she beat Sveta 1 and 3, by the way. She'll be #1 through Indian Wells.
(Pic: AP, Getty)