Monday, January 18, 2016 12:56 pm
Sixteenth seeded former world number one, Caroline Wozniacki booked her place among the seeded players seen off to the exit door on the first day of the Australian Open.
And the Dane now laments it was all her fault to have allowed her Kazakhstani opponent, Yulia Putintseva to come back in the game having thrashed her 6-1 in the first set.
But diminutive 21 year old player, ranked 70 in the world, clawed her way back, dumping out the Dane 1-6, 7-6(3) 6-4.
It was Caroline’s worst performance at Melbourne, a record that appeared to have followed a regressive pattern since 2011. In 2011, she reached the semifinals. In 2012, she got to the quarterfinals. In 2013, she reached the fourth round and the third round in 2014. Last year she was booted out in the second round. Now, she is out in the first round.
Wozniacki had a fine run in the first set, but the tone of the match changed early in the second set as her first serve began to falter. With that, and having shaken off an early bout of blisters and nerves, The No.76-ranked Putintseva found herself able to extend the rallies, scrambling to loop endless balls deep into Wozniacki’s back court.
The Dane simply could not pierce Putintseva’s defences, and as the 88-minute second set wore on her own ability to run the ball down was compromised. The Kazakhstani claimed it in a tiebreak, double-fist-pumping as she returned to her chair.
Wozniacki called for the trainer for treatment on her right foot early in the third set, and a couple of painkillers appeared to breathe fresh life into her game. But Putintseva refused to go away, driving Wozniacki to distraction with relentless lofted drives that pinned her back.
Down break point at 4-4, Wozniacki decided enough was enough. Caught in another rally deep behind the baseline, she stepped in and attacked the high ball with a drive volley. Putintseva simply ran it down, loaded up the spin and moon-balled a passing shot onto the baseline. From there she served out the win on her second match point, completing the comeback in three hours, 12 minutes.
Wozniacki was predictably disappointed after the match, lamenting her inability to finish the match off after a dominant opening.
“It wasn’t a pretty first set but I got it done and really should have closed it off in two,” she said.
“You know, I let her back into the match, and it was basically my own fault that I’m not here as the winner.”
She had few answers in the wake of the defeat, simply vowing to return to the practice court in a bid to turn around her season.
Her consolation however was that she not the only big star that was ousted on Day One in Melbourne.
Italian Sara Errani also lost out, alongside America’s Sloane Stephens and Australia’s Samantha Stosur, who crashed out in a late match to K. Pliskova, 4-6, 6-7.