No. 1 Wozniacki loses in French Open's 3rd round
If Caroline Wozniacki truly was torn up inside about her latest loss at a Grand Slam tournament, she certainly hid it well.
Wozniacki smiled and shrugged her shoulders while deflecting questions about being No. 1 in the rankings despite never having won a major title. Her wait for a breakthrough was extended Friday, when she was beaten 6-1, 6-3 by 28th-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia in the third round of the French Open.
After the match, Wozniacki was consoled by her father. She said he told her: ''The world still goes on, and we still have the next tournament next week. There is nothing you can do about it now, so just don't beat yourself up too much.''
Wozniacki's early exit came a day after No. 2 Kim Clijsters was eliminated by 114th-ranked Arantxa Rus, marking the first time that the top two seeded women failed to make the round of 16 at any Grand Slam tournament in the Open era, which began in 1968. It never had happened at the French Open since it began admitting foreign entrants in 1925.
''Kim had a tough loss yesterday; I had a tough loss today. That's what happens,'' said Wozniacki, a Dane who reached No. 1 in October and has been there every week but one since then. ''Since we're No. 1 and 2, it means that we must be doing something right. It's just unfortunate to lose in a Grand Slam, but that's what happens, and we just need to move forward.''
Hantuchova explained the surprises this way: ''It just shows how strong women's tennis is at the moment. It's very open.''
As if to prove that point, another French Open title contender, 2010 runner-up and 2009 semifinalist Sam Stosur of Australia, was beaten 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 by Gisela Dulko of Argentina. But No. 13 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who won the 2004 U.S. Open and 2009 French Open, defeated Rebecca Marino of Canada 6-0, 6-4.
After Kuznetsova won, she was asked by a reporter to look ahead to facing Wozniacki, whose match against Hantuchova was barely under way at the time.
The assumption was that Hantuchova wouldn't present too much of a challenge, in part because she entered the day 0-3 against Wozniacki and 0-6 against women ranked No. 1. But the tall Hantuchova, a semifinalist at the 2008 Australian Open and former top-five player herself, says she is a more mature player and person at 28 than she was at 20, when she famously fought tears while losing a second-round match at Wimbledon in 2003.
''I feel like the experience is starting to pay off. I mean, I have been around for quite some time. I know what to expect in the big tournaments and I think I'm much more calmer than I was before,'' she said. ''It's just about putting it all together and mentally being really strong on the court.''
She needed that when Wozniacki cut a 4-1 deficit in the second set to 4-3. Instead of being shaken, Hantuchova stayed steady and took the next two games to end it.
''She played very, very well today, better than me for sure,'' Wozniacki said. ''She knew what she was going to go out there and do. She was just too good.''
Wozniacki's best showing at a major tournament came at the U.S. Open in 2009, when she lost to Clijsters in the final. Still, Wozniacki isn't the only woman to be No. 1 without owning Grand Slam title No. 1 - Dinara Safina and Jankovic share that sort of resume - and she is only 20, after all.
But with a game based primarily on avoiding errors rather than conjuring up point-ending shots - Hantuchova built a 26-8 edge in winners Friday - questions remain about when Wozniacki will collect a major trophy.
She says she doesn't care what others think.
''When I was younger, people told me, 'Yeah, yeah, right, you'll never be a top player. You're from Denmark. (You) don't have the mentality.' Blah, blah, blah,'' Wozniacki said. ''And it really doesn't matter. For me, I know what I'm capable of. I know I'm a great player. I'm doing well, and, you know, I had a loss today. That's what happens. I'll be back even better.''
Howard Fendrich can be reached at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich