Denmark native and former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki reacts after losing match point against Austria’s Tamira Paszek during her first round of Wimbledon on Wednesday.
WIMBLEDON, England — Caroline Wozniacki believes her recent slump and slide in the rankings has more to do with bad luck than bad tennis.
The former top-ranked Dane lost two match points in the second set before falling to Tamira Paszek of Austria, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-4 ,in the first round of Wimbledon on Wednesday.
Wozniacki has yet to win a title this year, was eliminated in the third round of the French Open and lost her first match at the grass-court warm-up tournament at Eastbourne.
Having ended both 2010 and 2011 as the top-ranked woman — albeit without winning a major — she has fallen all the way to No. 7.
So could it be that her highly publicized relationship with golf Rory McIlroy — which began a year ago — is affecting her tennis? Or maybe her new singing career? Or her fashion line?
“No,” was the short and terse answer.
Instead, she pointed to factors like luck and Paszek hitting two balls on the line when saving one of her match points.
“I didn’t think it was a bad match (Wednesday),” Wozniacki said. “You’re going through periods where you’re lucky, the luck is turning your way, you’re not playing great, but you win the matches anyway.
“You go through periods where it’s just not going your way. You just need to get through this. Hopefully, sooner than later, it will start turning my way.”
She hadn’t lost in the first round of a major since the 2007 French Open.
Paszek certainly wasn’t an easy opponent, coming off a win at Eastbourne for her third WTA title. Against Wozniacki on Centre Court, she hit two winners to save match points when trailing 5-4 in the second set. Paszek erased an early break in the decider but failed to serve out the match at 5-3, only to break the seventh-seeded Wozniacki again to clinch the match.
“I had over two years where I was winning these matches,” Wozniacki said. “I feel lately it’s going the other way a little bit. It’s not the first match this year where I have match points and not winning. You know, it’s frustrating obviously. But it’s tennis.”
The match was halted because of rain Tuesday with the score at 2-2 in the first set and it was interrupted again Wednesday by showers that forced organizers to slide the retractable roof over Centre Court. The match lasted 3 hours, 12 minutes.
“It was a good match, good tennis, but that doesn’t really help me. I lost in the first round,” Wozniacki said. “(Today) no one will remember how great a match it was, they’ll just remember who won. It’s not a nice feeling. Those are some of the matches that it’s really great when you win them, but also really sucks when you lose. Especially after having two match points and not taking them.”
Meanwhile, McIlroy will be playing in the Irish Open today. He’s trying to break out of his own recent slump, having missed the cut in four of his last five tournaments and losing his No. 1 ranking to Luke Donald.
Wozniacki said she hasn’t decided whether to fly to Northern Ireland to support him, having traveled to several of his tournaments previously over the last year.
“To be honest, right now I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said. “I don’t know what my plans are at the moment.”
RODDICK WINS IN STRAIGHT SETS: Three-time Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick reached the second round by wrapping up a rain-delayed 7-6 (1), 6-4, 7-5 victory against 186th-ranked British wild-card entry Jamie Baker on Wednesday.
The 30th-seeded Roddick, whose title at the 2003 U.S. Open was the last for an American man at any Grand Slam tournament, and Baker were forced off court by wet weather in the second set Tuesday night. Then the resumption of their match was pushed back by a rain delay Wednesday.
Roddick broke Baker for a 6-5 lead in the final set, then served out the match, closing it with a 127 mph ace, his 14th.
WEIRD, WILD DAY 3 AT WIMBLEDON WITH UPSETS APLENTY: Count ‘em: 7 seconds.
That’s how long French Open runner-up Sara Errani “played” at Wimbledon on Wednesday against qualifier CoCo Vandeweghe of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. — enough time to wrap up a 6-1, 6-3 victory in the first round.
How’s that possible? Because action was suspended by rain a night earlier, with the 10th-seeded Errani at match point as the 132nd-ranked Vandeweghe served.
When they resumed, after the customary several-minute warmup ritual of baseline strokes, volleys, overheads and serves, Vandeweghe tossed up a ball and hit it into the net. Moments later, she hit her second serve into the net, too, to complete the double-fault that ended the match, right then and there — leaving both women smiling and spectators guffawing.
Asked by an Italian reporter to recount what happened, Errani said, justifiably: “There’s not much to tell.”
All in all, it was exactly the sort of unusual happening that Day 3 kept producing in what’s shaping up as a wet and wild week at the All England Club. Another: Prince Charles visited his nation’s most famous tennis club, something he hadn’t done in 42 years.
Four of the top 13 seeded women were sent packing Wednesday, including 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur, 2011 French Open champion Li Na, and, of course, Wozniacki.
The fifth-seeded Stosur’s 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 loss to 72nd-ranked Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands means Australia will have zero men or women in the third round for the first time since 1939.
No. 11 Li lost to 52nd-ranked Sorana Cirstea of Romania, 6-3, 6-4, in a second-round match, and 13th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova was beaten by 31st-ranked Klara Zakopalova of Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-1, in the first round.
Adding to the anything-can-happen vibe, at least for the better part of an hour: No. 1 Maria Sharapova trailed 38th-ranked Tsvetana Pironkova throughout the first set, fended off five set points, and was ahead, 7-6 (3), 3-1, when their second-round match was suspended by darkness.
Before the rain came, Prince Charles sat in the Royal Box at Centre Court, watching six-time champion Roger Federer stumble once and awkwardly tweak his left knee but otherwise easily reach the third round by beating 68th-ranked Fabio Fognini of Italy, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2.
Federer and Fognini offered slightly stilted bows on their way off the court. Afterward, Federer chatted with and the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall for a few minutes, discussing tennis, polo and Federer’s young twin daughters.
“They do brief you beforehand,” said Federer, owner of a record 16 major championships, but none in the last 2 1/2 years. “I guess you don’t do anything stupid. You behave. Obviously we were asked to bow, which is obviously no problem to do.”
His performance was hardly out of the ordinary, of course. Nor was the 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory turned in by top-seeded and defending champion Novak Djokovic against 20-year-old American Ryan Harrison under the roof in the day’s last match. Five-time major winner Kim Clijsters also got to get to the third.
Djokovic’s second-round match against Harrison actually was much tighter than the score implies. Each man hit eight aces. Djokovic had one more winner, 31-30, and one more unforced error, 15-14. What made the difference? Djokovic converted 3 of 3 break points, and Harrison went 0 for 6.
“I was in trouble in the second set,” Djokovic acknowledged. “It could have easily gone the other way.”
But there were other interesting happenings.
Heather Watson, a British player ranked 103rd, became the first woman from the tournament’s host country to reach the third round since 2002 by eliminating Jamie Hampton of the United States, 6-1, 6-4.
Sloane Stephens, an unseeded 19-year-old American making her main-draw debut at the All England Club, saved five set points in the opener and wound up eliminating No. 23 Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-3. In the third set, Stephens was behind love-30 in four consecutive service games, before coming back to win each of them.
On to Day 4.