Great Dane: Caroline Wozniacki
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The small Scandinavian nation of Denmark is currently enjoying the efforts of its best-ever women's tennis player -- Caroline Wozniacki.
The 19-year-old Odense (third-largest city in Denmark) native started 2009 ranked No. 12 in the world, and has since pecked her way up to a career-high No. 8 thanks to a big season that's included six trips, already, into finals.
And she still has three months left in the campaign.
FYI: Beloved Danish author and poet Hans Christian Andersen also hailed from Odense.
The big-hitting Wozniacki has collected a pair of titles this year, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and Eastbourne, England, and has finished as a runner-up in Memphis, Charleston, Madrid and Bastad. Two of the title bout setbacks came at the hands of current world No. 1 Dinara Safina, in Madrid, and current world No. 9 Victoria Azarenka, in Memphis.
In addition to her two titles this year, Wozniacki has also posted a pair of big wins over world No. 5 star Elena Dementieva, the reigning Olympic gold medalist and former two-time Grand Slam runner-up. The Dane toppled the Russian in a semifinal in Charleston and a fourth-rounder at the so-called "Fifth Slam" in Miami.
Caroline Wozniacki has already reached six finals this year and is up to No. 8 in the world.
Wozniacki officially started her ascent up the WTA Tour ladder last year, as she opened the 2008 season ranked 64th in the world and completed it 52 spots better. She nailed down her first three tour titles last year and was a runner-up at one another event. All told, she's appeared in no less than 10 finals over the last two seasons, with five of 'em resulting in championships.
Note: Wozniacki is the only Dane currently inside the women's Top 300.
Although Wozniacki is enjoying a fine '09 season, you'd probably have to call her efforts at the majors to this point a bit disappointing. She suffered third-round losses at the Aussie and French Opens and was a fourth-round upset victim at Wimbledon. She also failed to reach at least one Grand Slam quarterfinal last year. But, in all fairness to the blonde bomber, she's still only performed in 10 major events in her young career and has not lost before the third round in her last seven Slam outings.
As a junior standout, Wozniacki captured the girls' Wimbledon title in 2006.
The 5-foot-10 star comes from an athletic bloodline, as her father, Piotr, played professional soccer in Poland and Denmark; her mother, Anna, played volleyball for the Polish national team; and her older brother, Patrik, plays pro soccer in Denmark. Both of her parents are of Polish descent. Her dad serves as one of her coaches, along with Morten Christensen.
Did You Know?: From 2006-2008, surveys ranked Denmark as "the happiest place in the world," based on standards of health, welfare, and education. And the 2008 Global Peace Index survey ranked Denmark as the second-most peaceful country in the world, behind only Iceland.
Maybe these surveys would explain why Caroline is always smiling.
Heading into this week's tournament in Toronto, Wozniacki is a solid 51-16 for the year, and she should be among the contenders at the final major of the season, the U.S. Open, which gets underway in less than two weeks.