by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IF CAROLINE Wozniacki was looking for omens going into the biggest event of the season, she will be forgiven for thinking that history is going to repeat itself.
When she first won the women’s Liverpool International in 2006, beating Ashley Harkleroad in a third set super tie-break, a fortnight later Wozniacki lifted the Wimbledon Junior title.
Fast forward to the present and the Danish teenager will head to SW19 on the back of an almost identical preparation after again lowering Harkleroad’s colours at Calderstones Park, 4-6, 6-4, 10-5.
First things first, though, Wozniacki has a date in Eastbourne to attend but some astute judges are tipping her to be the dark horse at Wimbledon and she hopes to prove them right.
“I’d love to think I could win the main event,” she said. “If it’s possible, you never know what might happen. We’ll just have to see how it turns out.
“I’ve just got to think about the draw, hope for a bit of luck and then maybe things can go my way. I’m just going to go there and try my best.”
She certainly needed her ‘A’ game yesterday as having lost the first set, Wozniacki found herself 3-4 down in the second and Harkleroad looked certain to retain her title.
However, Wozniacki went through the gears to such effect that Harkleroad had no answer when she reeled off four consecutive games and was a spent force in the decider.
Perhaps, though, such a close contest was inevitable.
This, after all, was the third time that the two have met in the final at Calderstones and both have similarly powerful styles.
“Every year it has gone to a super tie-break in the third set,” Wozniacki reflected. “Ashley played really well and I’m just happy that I pulled it through.
“It’s good preparation for what lies ahead. I feel ready for the big challenges and I’m getting used to being on a grass surface again.
“I had only been broken once in the tournament, so it was a surprise that Ashley did it to me three times. I thought when she went 4-3 up in the second that she would win it.
“I knew if I didn’t break her straight away that it would be really difficult but I was pleased with how things turned around when I started playing faster.”
A lot, of course, can happen in a year but it would not be a surprise if a fourth instalment takes places next June, as – like so many of her colleagues – Wozniacki is a huge fan of the event.
“I’d love to come back again,” she declared without hesitation. “It’s been a different experience for me in each of the three years I’ve played here. But the tournament is definitely better now.”