Friday, May 27, 2011
Hantuchova sends Wozniacki out of Paris
It wasn't a difficult match for Hantuchova; she allowed the world number 1 to win only four games. Hantuchova had first and second serve percentages of 76 and 61, she won at the net in seven of nine approaches, and she hit more than three times as many winners as Wozniacki. In an hour and 13 minutes, it was over, and Hantuchova--the very essence of sangfroid--had won, 6-1, 6-3.
Hantuchova performed at this level on clay (albeit green clay) last year when she took Jelena Jankovic out of the quarterfinals in Charleston. When she hits her groundstrokes consistently, she hits up and down both lines, and she's hard to beat, especially given her skills at the net. Hantuchova can hit hard and soft, and we saw both today, as she prevented Wozniacki from developing any kind of consistent rhythm.
Wozniacki does require a consistent rhythm, and when she doesn't get it, she can lose her way. Expectations that she would win the French Open were held by some; yet if Wozniacki lacked aggression in Paris, what will she do at Wimbledon, playing on faster courts? She insists there is "no pressure," but the fact of the matter is that she does not perform at the same level in majors as she does in some other events. In some form or other, that has to be a partly mental phenomenon.
Wozniacki, we heard a few weeks ago, is supposed to start working a bit with Martina Navratilova. Not that anyone has asked for my advice--but I think the player who could most benefit from working with Navratilova is Sam Stosur. Stosur has a lot going for her, but needs to overcome her discomfort with moving forward. (Piotr Wozniacki, by the way, made a point of saying that he and Caroline would have to pay for Navratilova's consultation "out of our own pockets" and that Navratilova's services were not inexpensive--sorry, I'm just not feeling the indignation.)
There were some notable "firsts" today. Hantuchova beat a number 1 player for the first time in her career (that is so hard to believe), and for the first time in the Open Era, the two top seeds (Kim Clijsters went out yesterday) made an exit from a major before the round of 16.
We're down to 24, and there are still a half dozen Russians in the draw, by the way. The chances are fairly good that--after tomorrow--there will still be a half dozen Russians in the draw. The way this tournament is going, however, nothing seems too certain. On the other hand, observers shouldn't really be surprised to see Wozniacki and Clijsters upset on clay,
Still hanging around, I should mention, is 6th seed Li Na, who has never before done especially well on clay courts. And 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is always unpredictable, is also still going strong in Paris.