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Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010

Wozniacki closes in on world No. 1 ranking


Staff writer

Caroline Wozniacki moved a step closer to her first world No. 1 ranking after rallying to beat Elena Dementieva 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 for the Pan Pacific Open title on Saturday.

Wozniacki can overtake Serena Williams for the top spot with at least a quarterfinal finish at next week's China Open in Beijing, but things could have been very different had the 20-year-old Dane not overcome a sluggish start to seal victory at Ariake Colosseum.

Dementieva looked in complete control after breaking her opponent three times to take the first set, but top seed Wozniacki came roaring back to win the second before riding the momentum all the way to her first success at the $2 million tournament.

"Elena was playing really well in the first set, and she had the possibility to do what she wanted," Wozniacki said. "So I didn't have anything to lose. I already lost the first set pretty comfortably, so if I didn't show something I would lose in two sets.

"Definitely the No. 1 ranking is something that has always been a goal for me, but I'm so focused on just winning the tournament that I'm playing, and right now I just want to celebrate this victory. Next week I'm just going to see what happens. . ."

Dementieva believes the title of world No. 1 would sit comfortably on her opponent's shoulders.

"There is no weak spot in her game — she is very solid," the Russian said. "She really makes you work very hard on the court and you have to earn the points. She doesn't give you anything easily.

"It's very difficult because going into the match you realize it's all going to be about you — you making the winner or making a mistake, because there is nothing you can expect from her. No mistakes."

There were plenty of mistakes from Wozniacki in a scrappy first set, however, and it took a lapse of concentration from her opponent to offer a way back in. Dementieva threw away a 40-0 lead on service with the second set tied at 1-1, and the No. 7 seed was left to rue the moment the match began to slip from her grasp.

"I think that was the best opportunity, but I just didn't take it," Dementieva said.

The comeback gave Wozniacki her fifth title of the year, and her second in Tokyo after winning the Japan Open in 2008.

"I won here when I was 18, and I like playing here," she said. "It's a great court and a good atmosphere.

"I think I've grown a little bit, not just my game but also mentally. I believe I can beat anyone, and I also believe that my fitness has really helped me a lot. I feel physically good, I feel healthy and I'm strong and I'm fast. I think that's something that has really helped my game."

In the doubles final, Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova beat Shahar Peer and Shuai Peng 6-4, 4-6, 10-8.



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