Wozniacki tempers late start with quick finish
Originally published on: 01/09/10 09:57
She had to wait until midnight to get on court, but top seed Caroline Wozniacki won’t lose any sleep after her first round encounter at Flushing Meadows, putting to bed the challenge of American wildcard Chelsey Gullickson in double quick time.
The Dane, who has won 14 of her 15 matches since Wimbledon, managed only six winners in the hour-long contest, but relied on a patient performance to see her through a 6-1 6-1 victor.
Gullickson, who honed her game at the University of Georgia, appeared thrown by the delayed start and high-pressure Arthur Ashe arena, throwing in 30 unforced errors and four doubles faults on her Grand Slam debut.
By contrast, the top seed and 2009 finalist was unfazed by the delayed start, instead, simply content to get her latest campaign up and running.
“Well, definitely it’s a long night,” said 20-year-old Wozniacki. “The matches before on centre court were so long. But a win is a win, so it doesn’t really matter what time I get on. As long as I win, I’m happy.”
Former US Open champ Sventlana Kuznetsova had to negotiate a tougher opener, eventually coming through an “uncomfortable” opening round clash with Kimiko Date Krumm in three sets to reach round two.
“It was very hard to play somebody you never played before, especially, you know, that she’s good,” said the Russian of her 39-year-old opponent, who would have become the third-oldest woman to win a match in the Open era had she pulled through.
“I didn’t realise that she plays very different game from everybody – and I know as well that Dinara [Safina] lost to her twice, and she’s uncomfortable to play against,” added Kuznetsova, who eventually prevailed 6-2 4-6 6-1 in 96-degree heat.
“I just started moving,” the 25-year-old Russian said in explanation of the straightforward final set that confirmed her place in round two.
Though tipped to mount a stern challenge for her fourth Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows this year, Maria Sharapova found it tough going against Australia’s Jarmilia Groth.
“She came out today and really swung and didn’t give me much time to do anything out there,” said the former world No.1. “Against a player like that, who kind of plays the one-two punch type of tennis, it’s quite difficult to get a rhythm in the beginning.”
Relying on “some great second serves,” Sharapova eventually found her groove after dropping the first set, clinching a 4-6 6-3 6-1 victory to remain in the hunt for a repeat of her 2006 New York triumph.
Earlier on Tuesday, fourth seed Jelena Jankovic enjoyed a lucky escape after scraping past Simona Halep 6-4 4-6 7-5, but only after world number 96 Halep had served for the match at 5-4 in the decider.
In round two, Jankovic will face Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic, the 1999 Wimbledon semi-finalist who vanished off the tour for several years due to personal and financial problems.
Lucic, who beat Australia’s Alicia Molik 7-6 6-1, turned professional in April 1997, at the age of 15, and promptly won her first tournament. She was still just 15 when she won the Australian Open doubles title in 1998 with Martina Hingis.
Li Na became the first seed to fall, losing 2-6 6-4 6-4 to Kateryna Bondarenko.
Britain’s Anne Keothavong also crashed out in round one, losing to Yung-Jan Chan in sweltering conditions at Flushing Meadows. The 26-year-old Londoner raised doubts about her future in the game following her 2-6 6-1 6-1 defeat.
Keothavong, who made the third round in 2008, said: “I’m not the player I was two years ago here.”
“Who knows what’s going to happen after this? I’m going to need time to reassess and decide what I want to do.”