Caroline Wozniacki is back in the winner's circle. The former No. 1 defeated No. 2 seed Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-1 to win her first title of the season at the Istanbul Cup on Sunday. The title was the 22nd of her career and extended her streak of winning a title every year for the last seven years.
Three thoughts on Wozniacki's first win of the season:
Caroline the Consistent returns: The hallmarks of Wozniacki's heady No. 1 days were consistency and titles. Her game didn't overpower anyone, but she didn't beat herself and she was the toughest out in tennis. For her to return to the game's elite — she'll be No. 13 on Monday — she had to find some level of consistency. If the last five weeks are any indication, she is well on her way. It all started when she made the semifinals of Eastbourne, losing a tight match to Angelique Kerber in three sets, then a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon where she lost to a streaking Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. It was her best run through grass since 2009 and she translated that confidence to Istanbul's hard courts. She was tested earlier in the week, needing three sets to beat Karin Knapp and Karolina Pliskova, but once the title was in reach she was all business. She needed just 67 minutes to beat Vinci on Sunday.
"I'm happy to have won my 22nd WTA title," Wozniacki said. "It's a great feeling. I'm happy how the final went today. I served well and pushed her around the court, and I really dictated the match."
She's not "back" yet: Wozniacki has been better over the last five weeks but let's keep expectations in check. She hasn't beaten a top ten player in nearly a year — her last win was over Petra Kvitova last August — and the international-level Istanbul field was weak. But winning a title is a confidence booster and can turn a season around, and this is the first time since she was No. 1 in 2011 that she's won a tournament before the U.S. Open. With the rest of the season being played on her favorite hard courts, Wozniacki could be prime for a run. But to show she's back in the conversation she needs to beat someone — anyone — in the top ten.
It's time to consciously uncouple "Wozzilroy": On the same day Wozniacki lifted her first trophy since their breakup, Rory McIlroy won his third major at the British Open. Given how their respective slumps seemed to begin when they first started dating in 2011, the easy narrative is, well, easy. Since McIlroy unceremoniously broke off their engagement via a phone call in May, Wozniacki has held her head high and played some of her best tennis of the season.
But let's check all the "Wozzilroy" talk at the door. Constantly talking about her results in light of his just diminishes her accomplishments. Not everything is about a breakup. If the Dane wants to make it all about McIlroy and comes out and blames their relationship for her on-court woes and the like, that's one thing. But she hasn't.
"I think everyone here wants to make me a victim," Wozniacki told reporters at Wimbledon, after being asked whether her results were motivated by revenge. "I'm not a victim. I'm just playing tennis. I'm going about my life."