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Paul Rivard Blo...

Rivard: Paris 2024 - All eyes on Denmark

by Paul Rivard

August 22, 2023

If you’ve never considered Denmark to be an Olympic medal contender, no one will hold it against you. But things could change a year from now at the Paris Games, especially owing to the potential mixed doubles team made up of two players that bring youth and experience.

Before the phenomenal emergence of teen sensation Holger Rune, the longest winning streak by a Danish player belonged Kenneth Carlsson, who lost in the third round at the 1996 Atlanta Games. On the women’s side, Grand Slam champion and former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki got as far as the quarters in London in 2012.

Seeing as Scandinavia’s smallest country hasn’t produced very many tennis stars, the nation’s Olympic dreams are very few and very far between.

Caroline Wozniacki recently made a comeback from a three-year absence right here in Montréal. The current No.632 is definitely playing at a higher level than her ranking but still needs to find her bearings to really challenge the world elite.

Photo : Mathieu Bélanger/Tennis Canada

But there’s more to her drive to get back to world-class tennis after children, since she’s also thinking about the Olympic title.

Read also: Comeback is a Family Affair for Wozniacki

And now that a fellow Dane is in the ATP Top 10, it’s within reach.

“I practiced with him in Monaco, we were both there and it was awesome,” Wozniacki said last week in Cincinnati. “I mean, he hits such a clean ball. I would love to be on the same side of the net with him as well. Obviously, the Olympics would be awesome to play and mixed doubles with him would be a big goal. But we'll see how everything shakes up.”

Photo : W&S Open

When asked about the Olympics in a recent interview, Rune was on board. “I was so happy when she said that. That could be very, very fun,” he said.

After a brilliant win at the NBO, Wozniacki had a less-than-stellar start to the WTA 1000 event in Cincinnati, losing in the opening round.

Photo : Mathieu Bélanger/Tennis Canada

Her next stop is the US Open, where she’d love to do well. Still, she’s realistic. It’s difficult to aspire to huge success after such a long hiatus.

Achievements like Kim Clijsters’ don’t happen often in a generation. In 2019, after two years and four months away, she’d competed in only seven matches at two tournaments when she surprised the world by winning the title in the Big Apple, dropping only two sets in the process.

Photo : AFP

We’ll know by next summer if Denmark can send its players to the tennis event, but both Wozniacki and Rune are expected to be in action.

As far as the other potential members of the Danish delegation, you’ll have to keep your fingers crossed. No. 92 Clara Tauson, 2018 National Bank Canadian Junior Open champion, has yet to fulfil the tremendous expectations placed upon her. The next in line are No. 384 Johanne Svendsen (No. 701 in doubles) and No. 465 Olga Helmi (No. 627 in doubles).

Read also: Gauff Caps Dream Week with Breakthrough in Cincinnati

On the men’s side, the Danes will be looking to No. 404 August Holmgren (No. 308 in doubles).

Denmark’s highest-ranked player in men’s doubles is No. 204 Holger Rune.

The Wimbledon champ eyes the WTA Finals

Photo : Jimmie48/WTA

Newly-minted Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova has her eye on the WTA Finals.

Fueled by the confidence she gained in London, Montréal (two matches) and Cincinnati (three matches), she continues to climb in the rankings. In two and a half months, she’s risen from No.103 to No.9.

Between now and the end of the season, she has very few points to defend since just a year ago she was still recovering from an injury that kept her out of the game until October 2022. When she returned, she went on to win a W100 event in England, one of the three tournaments she entered.

Read also: Going the distance in 2023

But beyond the rankings, it’s the race for the year-end WTA Finals that’s key.

Going into the US Open, she’s no.5 in line and aims to be among the eight players selected for the showdown in Shenzhen. A lot can happen between now and then, but when a player starts feeling really confident, great things can happen. And keep on happening.

She remembers the feeling of reaching her first Grand Slam final in 2019 at Roland-Garros, which she lost to Ash Barty.

Photo : AFP

"After that final, I was feeling down," Marketa told WTA Insider. “I expected it to go smoothly, that I would be a top player. That never happens. You have to keep working, you have to stay focused. After Wimbledon, I had a week off and then I practiced again. I never felt unmotivated. That was a good thing to have.”

Read also: Pegula Finally Gets Her Hands on Montreal Trophy

And so is health. Vondrousova’s come a long way and knows the importance and the satisfaction of competing injury-free.

“I’m just very grateful to be healthy. I played every tournament that I could this year and that's amazing.”

Photo : Getty