Tennis - Wimbledon

Wozniacki sent packing at Wimbledon

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki lost her opening match at Wimbledon 5-7 7-6(4) 6-4 against Austria's Tamira Paszek.

 
Wozniacki sent packing  - Tennis - WimbledonReuters
 

Wozniacki started the year on top of the world rankings and as the glamorous cover girl of women's tennis but on Wednesday a humiliating first-round defeat at Wimbledon completed her fall from grace.

A smouldering image of the Dane, dressed in black and with her blonde mane flying around her face, is plastered across the cover of this year's WTA guide with the strapline "Strong is Beautiful".

It is an honour she earned for finishing 2011 as the world's best women's player but on Wednesday, the ugly mistakes in her game could not be airbrushed away as she suffered her earliest loss at Wimbledon when she was humbled 5-7 7-6 6-4 by Tamira Paszek.

To add to her woes, seventh seed Wozniacki should have wrapped up the match in straight sets as she had two match points at 6-5 in the second, only to see the Austrian go for broke with some daredevil shots.

Paszek saved one with a forehand that grazed the baseline and then clipped the sideline on the second with a vicious backhand.

The 21-year-old Pazek, who could have represented a number of countries as her parents have links to Tanzania, Kenya, Canada and Chile, left Wozniacki all tongue-tied and befuddled in the third set as the Dane ran out of ideas and bowed out after three hours 12 minutes.

"(It) really sucks when you lose. Especially after having two match points and not taking them. It wasn't because I played badly. She just went for it, and that's it," said a rather tetchy Wozniacki, who has yet to win one of the four majors.

"I just need to move forward. You can't dwell in your past but move forward, look forward. That's it."

Asked what her plans were for moving forward, she replied: "To be honest, I haven't really thought about it."

While Pazek proved that her win at Eastbourne at the weekend was no fluke, Wozniacki was left to ponder yet another flop show as she has now gone 10 months without a title.

During that time, she has launched a women's underwear range and jetted around the world with her boyfriend Rory McIlroy, the 2011 US Open golf champion.

If she was hoping to get tips from McIlroy on how to bounce back, she is unlikely to get much help as he has missed four cuts in his last five events and has also lost his own top ranking. At least they will have common topics to talk about over their next romantic dinner date.

Australian doom and gloom at Wimbledon was complete when Samantha Stosur became the highest seeded casualty at this year's championships, the women's number five losing 6-2 0-6 6-4 to Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus.

The US Open champion lost six games in a row to surrender the first set before reeling off six on the spin to take the match into a decider but never looked comfortable and failed to claw back a 3-0 deficit despite saving two match points.

Of the four Australian men and five women to start in the main singles draws, Stosur was the only player to win a match - although her defeat was hardly a surprise give her poor record on grass.

Wozniacki sent packing - Tennis - Wimbledon "This year I hated grass a little bit less than the previous years," said Stosur, who has suffered five first-round defeats at Wimbledon and four second-round losses.

"It's just disappointing because you want to do well here.

It's a great tournament. I still love playing here at Wimbledon, but obviously it hasn't been my very best tournament."

She saved two match points trailing 5-3, one of them with a sensational winner to end a fierce baseline rally, and looked poised to level at 5-5 as she led 40-15 on serve but crumbled, slicing a backhand into the bottom of the net to hand the 72nd-ranked Rus victory.

"I'm very happy with this win today, especially on the grass, as I haven't won a match in the main draw before," said Rus.

"It was very nice to play on Court One. I hope to play the same again in the next round also and we will see what happens."

Stosur's defeat raised the inevitable questions about why a country that has produced Wimbledon champions like Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Roy Emerson, Pat Cash, Lleyton Hewitt, Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong, could fail so dismally at a tournament that has provided such rich pickings.

The men suffered their worst Wimbledon showing since 1938.

"It's a pretty woeful performance by all of us, but it's not through lack of trying or not wanting to be here or anything like that," Stosur said.

"I think you have to look at something on a whole, for a longer period of time than just one event, to say that we're in this dire straits kind of mode right now.

"Of course it can be better. Myself and all the other players that I'm sure we can speak for wish we had a better tournament."

Stosur said she was looking forward to being back on the grass in the women's doubles with Casey Dellacqua and at this year's London Olympics at which Wimbledon is the tennis venue.

"We all take great pride in playing for our country and being part of that," she said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to turn it around for that event."

A third shock result looked as if it was unfolding as Maria Sharapova seemed certain to lose the opening set of her second round match against Tsvetana Pironkova.

The match was suspended for bad light with Sharapova having won the first set and a break up in the second, but Bulgaria's Pironkova held set points in two separate games in the opening set, first failing to hold serve to close out the set and then seeing a 0-40 lead disappear in the next game.

The Russian world number one came through both tests, taking the opening set and going up a break early in the second. Play will resume on Tuesday with Sharapova leading 7-6(3) 2-1.

There were no problems for Kim Clijsters, however, who waltzed into the third round with a straightforward 6-3 6-3 victory over Andrea Hlavackova.

Clijsters is bouncing in the basement of the world's top 50 these days, but come grand slams her quality is at the fore, and on a drizzly, overcast South-west London evening Hlavackova was relegated to bit-part actress as the Clijsters circus rolled on.

Her demeanour has been matured by marriage, motherhood and the passing years, and it was a muted joy which heralded her victory - a clenched fist and a determined nod rather than a skip and giggle.

"Yeah, I was very happy with the way everything went today," the 29-year-old winner of four grand slam titles said.

"I felt it was another step upwards from my first match against (Jelena) Jankovic. I was really focused once I got out there and just really tried to be ready from the start."

Clijsters, a former semi-finalist here, has said she will walk away from tennis after August's US Open, and dominated from the off on Centre Court.

She is too long in the tooth to get carried away, however. "I was able to just keep my level up throughout that whole match," she said flashing a smile, before switching to Flemish.

 - Eurosport
 
 
 
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