Dubai: Caroline Wozniacki, who takes over from Kim Clijsters as world number one again in Monday's new WTA ranking list, celebrated with the 13th title of her career, the Dubai Open, on Sunday after outplaying Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-3.
Denmark's Wozniacki turned in her fifth solid performance of the week against Kuznetsova, even though the former US and French Open champion had previously been showing signs of revival after more than six months in the doldrums.
Wozniacki broke serve at once for 2-0, and although she played one indifferent game, broke twice more to capture a one-sided first set in only half an hour.
Kuznetsova only briefly threatened a fightback as she broke serve when Wozniacki tried to close the match out at 5-2, but made far too many unforced errors to trouble the athletic, consistent Dane.
"I was very happy with my performance," Wozniacki said. "I went for my shots and I am definitely playing better than I have before."
Wozniacki certainly came forward more often than she used to, and was notably potent with a backhand drive hit with accelerated pace down the line.
But the foundation of her success was still based on her excellent movement, smoothly constructed rallying, good concentration, and intelligent tactics.
On one occasion in the first set she did all this so well that a man yelled out "I love you, Wozniacki," making the crowd titter.
Importantly, she made a livelier start than in the semi-finals when she had gone 0-3 down to Jelena Jankovic and had then slipped to set point down before recovering.
This time she broke serve at once for 2-0, and although she played one indifferent game, broke twice more to capture of the first set quickly and establish a psychological stranglehold.
Thereafter, Wozniacki comfortably contained the most powerful blows of Kuznetsova, who had claimed she is trying to emulate Serena Williams' forcefulness, but paid too high a price for doing so.
The second set continued in a similar vein to the first, with Wozniacki rallying with increasing confidence and once again breaking serve straight away.
Again Wozniacki then played a bad game, but immediately returned serve with energetic enterprise, her pendant, ear-rings and ponytail all swinging giddily as she leapt about.
Again she reached 3-1, only for Kuznetsova to achieve her first hold of serve of the match. It was though a brief reprieve and after only 75 minutes Wozniacki completed the task with a huge grin.
"After my semi-final loss in the Australian Open (to Li Na), it's great to have this as my first tournament back, and, you know, to see me smiling again."
There was no doubt that her triumph felt like a part-atonement for her Melbourne disappointment, which had contributed to the temporary loss of the number one ranking.
"I was already back on the court the day afterwards," Wozniacki said. "There were a few things I wasn't happy about. I worked hard, and I knew that if I just keep working hard, and I take my chances, my time will come. And I'm back here playing well."
Kuznetsova, who will return to somewhere just outside the top ten, her highest ranking since the French Open in June, took the setback all in her stride.
She had previously made clear why she has more often been able to treat life's ups and downs with this relaxed attitude.
"You know, sometimes I think, so I win or lose, what happens? What changes? The world wouldn't change, she said. "If I have more or less points or money in my pocket, it's not going to change me.
"I want to be somewhere in the top of the game. But health, family, not having any terror attacks in countries - those are the important things in life."
First Published: Monday, February 21, 2011, 00:10