SINGAPORE -- After the Top 8 players of 2017 battled each other for over a week in Singapore, Caroline Wozniacki stands on top of the mountain.
The No.6-seeded Dane moved past fifth seed Venus Williams of the United States, 6-4, 6-4, to claim the title at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global on Sunday. Wozniacki wins the WTA Finals for the first time, besting her runner-up finish in 2010.
Wozniacki had to survive a stirring comeback from Williams in the second set. "I’m still shaking," Wozniacki said in her on-court interview after the match. "I was up 5-0, everything was going well, and all of a sudden, Venus just starts upping her game. She went for her shots, she started serving to my body, and I’m just so happy that I managed to win in the end."
Not only did Wozniacki win the WTA Finals for the first time, but she also beat Williams for the first time in her career, after seven previous losses. "Eight is my lucky number!" the Dane enthused. "I was hoping that if I’m going to beat her, at least once in my career, it has to be today. I just went out there and I just did my best."
— WTA (@WTA) October 29, 2017
Wozniacki played her exceptional mix of offense and defense to the hilt, hitting 19 winners to only eight unforced errors. Four of those winners were aces, extending her strong serving statistics she exhibited throughout the tournament.
Williams had a solid match as well, with 31 winners and a first serve percentage of 70 percent, but was unable to close out pivotal service games when she needed to at the end of both sets, and was broken two more times than Wozniacki, which was the difference.
"I think I got a lot of her serves back, and obviously she has a big first serve, but at the same time, I tried to keep pressure on her and tried to take a little bit of time away and stay a little bit closer to the baseline," Wozniacki said during her post-match press conference. "It's important for me to try and cut the angles and try and take the ball on the rise, and I think I did that pretty well."
The first three games went to the server with ease, and it appeared that Williams would continue that trend, jumping to a 40-15 lead in her service game at 2-1. But strong hitting by the Dane, including a superb passing shot, brought the game to deuce, and Wozniacki broke for 3-1 with a forehand winner.
Williams, however, broke back in the very next game with exceptional hitting off the forehand side. But Wozniacki once again went up a break, sealing a 5-3 lead with consecutive down-the-line forehand winners. Again, though, Williams came up with quality tennis, hitting four straight down-the-line winners, two from each side, to get the match immediately back on serve.
However, just when it seemed Williams had claimed momentum after an easy break, her forehand broke down, and a flurry of unforced errors off of that side gave Wozniacki the opener -- only the second set the Danish star had ever won off of Williams in their eight meetings.
It took a long time for the American to regain her footing after the loss of that set, and she quickly found herself in a huge hole. A Williams error off the backhand side gave Wozniacki an initial break in the second set, and another forehand error gave the Dane a 4-0, double-break lead.
After Wozniacki held for 5-0, it appeared that the match would be completed in an hour. But Williams began to demonstrate the solid play from her earlier wins over Karolina Pliskova, Garbiñe Muguruza, and Caroline Garcia. She broke Wozniacki for 5-2, and the march to a comeback was on.
"[Williams] started mixing up the serve a little bit more," Wozniacki told the press. "The crowd was starting to get into it and rooting her on, obviously, because they wanted a longer match. I just had to keep reminding myself that I'm still up and I'm the one who is leading here, and I'm the one who can close out this match right now."
Incredibly, Williams broke Wozniacki once more, slamming a forehand winner past a net-charging Wozniacki to pull back on serve at 5-4. Multiple powerful forehands by the American were too much for Wozniacki to handle in this game, and it seemed like that wing could propel her to a come-from-behind stunner.
— judy murray (@JudyMurray) October 29, 2017
But it was Wozniacki who bolstered her play, steeling herself with stellar defensive play to force errors from Williams. Another huge forehand helped Williams escape one championship point, but a backhand pass by Wozniacki on the second gave the Dane the biggest title of her career after an hour and a half.
Williams put up a spirited fight during the high-quality affair, capping a year where she reached the finals of Wimbledon and the Australian Open, as well as in Singapore. The American legend is projected to finish the year ranked in the Top 5 for the first time since 2010.
"[Wozniacki] played really well the whole match," Williams told the media after the final. "You know, I played well parts of the match and tried my best."
Meanwhile, Wozniacki is projected to finish the year ranked No.3, via a wonderful year in which she reached eight finals, and won two titles, including the Toray Pan Pacific Open to go alongside her WTA Finals trophy. Her heroics in Singapore also makes her the season leader in match wins (60) and Top 10 wins (13).
"Going into the tournament, you know that it's going to be a tough one," Wozniacki said to the media. "I'm really proud of how I have played all week and how I have fought and how I really produced some great fighting out there. To be here with the trophy means a lot, and it's a great way to finish off the year."