Wozniacki claims top WTA spot with Beijing win

Beijing: Denmark`s Caroline Wozniacki claimed the world number one ranking today when she breezed into the quarterfinals of the China Open, dethroning American tennis superstar Serena Williams.

The 20-year-old Wozniacki defeated the Czech Republic`s Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-2 in a third-round clash under the floodlights at the Olympic Green Tennis Centre in Beijing.

Wozniacki, the first from her country to reign supreme in the tennis world -- will replace Williams, a 13-time Grand Slam winner, atop the WTA rankings when a new list is issued on Monday. She came into the tournament ranked second.

Williams was forced to withdraw from the China Open due to a nagging foot injury suffered shortly after she won her fourth Wimbledon crown in July.

Wozniacki is the 20th player in WTA history to earn the top spot -- and the 10th to do so before her 21st birthday.

Of the women in that elite group, half are still active. Wozniacki earlier this week cited two members of the number one club -- Steffi Graf and Martina Hingis -- as her "idols" growing up.

Williams, 29, has held the top spot for a total of 123 weeks over her career. Like Wozniacki, she first reached the top spot when she was 20.

Wozniacki, who joined the tour five years ago, was ranked just 64th in 2007. The following year, she won her first WTA title and has not looked back since.

This year, she won titles in Ponte Vedra Beach, Copenhagen, Montreal and New Haven before storming to the winner`s circle at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo last week.

But at the US Open, where she was the top seed, she fell to Russia`s Vera Zvonareva in the semi-finals.

Wozniacki`s lack of a Grand Slam title has led some to question whether she is worthy of the top spot, but WTA Tour chief Stacey Allaster rejected such criticism, saying Wozniacki was "a very, very deserving world number one".

"There are only two players this year that have gotten to the fourth round of all four Grand Slams Caroline and Venus (Williams)," Allaster said.

"She`s won more matches than any other player on tour. Caroline right now is the most consistent player over this 12-month period."

Bureau Report

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