Woes for Caroline Wozniacki and Li Na while Andy Murray survives scare
PARIS // Caroline Wozniacki’s return to tennis and the public eye after her break-up with golfer Rory McIlroy ended in more pain yesterday when the 13th seed was knocked out in the French Open first round by Yanina Wickmayer.
The Dane lost in a high-quality baseline battle 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-2, to record a first opening-round defeat at Roland Garros since her debut in 2007.
As well as her love life, Wozniacki, 23, arrived in Paris nursing physical wounds after a knee injury ruled her out of the recent Rome tournament and curtailed her practice.
Her exit followed the departure of China’s Li Na. The world No 2 bowed out to world No 103 Kristina Mladenovic of France 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.
The former world No 1 Wozniacki said she would not answer questions about her private life, but issued a statement. “The only thing I really have to say is that, you know, thank everybody for their support and sweet messages. That’s really nice.
“You know, what happens in my personal life, I just want to really keep that between my closest people around me. You know, I just have to move on.”
She later added: “You’re not prepared for something like this, and it came as a bit of a shock. You need to just keep going and keep moving forward.”
The players swapped breaks of serve in the first set and the advantage kept changing in the tiebreaker before the Belgian ended a superb rally with a backhand cross-court winner.
Wozniacki wasted five break points in the sixth game of the second set but made amends with the score at 5-4 when Wickmayer, serving to stay in the set, netted a simple forehand to bring the Dane level.
But Wickmayer, going for her shots, hit back to break Wozniacki in the first game of the final set and again in the fifth.
The Dane broke back thanks to a lucky net cord and a fine drop shot but Wickmayer, ranked 64 in the world, was on top and sealed victory on her first match point after Wozniacki netted. “I prepared as best I could,” Wozniacki said about her knee injury. “I haven’t been able to play that many matches because of the injury. I felt rusty, it wasn’t a pretty match.”
In the aftermath of her split with McIlroy, Wozniacki found support on the tour.
“@CaroWozniacki I’ll always walk with you. #friendsforever,” wrote world number one Serena Williams on Twitter.
That was in reply to Wozniacki’s tweet which said: “It’s a hard time for me right now. Thanks for all the sweet messages! Happy I support Liverpool right now because I know I’ll never walk alone.”
Another player to fall in the first round was Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm, the oldest woman in the field at 43. She lost to 24th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 6-3, 0-6, 6-2.
Date-Krumm is the third oldest player in French Open singles history; Martina Navratilova was 47 in 2004. She made her main-draw debut at Roland Garros in 1989 – before more than half of this year’s women’s field was even born.
Others advancing included No 4 Simona Halep of Romania, No 6 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, No 11 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, No 15 Sloane Stephens of the United States, No 21 Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, No 27 Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia and No 26 Sorana Cirstea of Romania.
COACHLESS MURRAY SURVIVES INITIAL SCARE
Andy Murray got his French Open campaign off to a winning start yesterday as he needed four sets to see off Kazakhstan’s Andrey Golubev 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
The Wimbledon champion reached the 2011 semi-finals on the Paris clay, his best result on his least favourite surface, and was given a stern workout by his world No 53 opponent.
A run to the Rome Masters quarter-finals where he was outlasted by Rafael Nadal, losing 7-5 in the decider, has given the Murray camp reason for optimism in his seventh appearance at the French.
Still without a coach since splitting with Ivan Lendl, he backed that up with a patient showing on the Suzanne Lenglen court, using a baseline game and winning just under 50 per cent of his opponents service to wrap up a place in the last 64.
“He’s a tough player and very aggressive which put me on the back foot,” said Murray. “It was pretty windy, and I had to be patient but I got the win.
“Last year was tough because I missed Roland Garros with my back injury and it was really hard to watch it on TV.”
When asked about a future coach, Murray joked; “I’m looking but not many people want to work with me, hopefully soon.”
In the other matches, 11th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov lost to Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (4).
Two other seeded men retired from their matches, No 16 Tommy Haas of Germany and No 21 Nicolas Almagro of Spain. Former top-ranked player Lleyton Hewitt also lost.
Published: May 27, 2014 04:00 AM