Olympics: Wozniacki d. Keothavong

Saturday, July 28, 2012 /by

201206271055393413531-p2@stats.comAs if Caroline Wozniacki didn't already feel like the whole world was against her—more specifically, her once-extended reign as world No. 1, sans Slam—today she faced a British opponent on Centre Court, a venue that at times was as partisan as an Andy Murray match at Wimbledon. But these are, relatively speaking, heady times for British tennis, what with Murray reaching the final here weeks ago, Jonathan Marray taking (half?) of the doubles title, and with Heather Watson becoming the first homegrown woman to a match on Centre Court since 1985. So when Anne Keothavong aced Wozniacki to take the first set of her Olympics opener, the London crowd had good reason to get excited—was there something distinctly British in the air?

I suppose there was, but it was only hope. For Wozniacki avoided what would have contended for her lowest moment of 2012 by winning this at-times dramatic encounter, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. The Dane—whose compatriot, Frederik Nielsen, was the second half the aforementioned doubles championship team at Wimbledon—moves on to face Yanina Wickmayer in the second round.

The change from a best-of-five set format to a best-of-three on the men's side will surely play a part in some upsets this week, but for the women there's no difference from standard operating procedure. That should see most of the favorites through, even if that wasn't the case today on some other courts—Li Na and Sam Stosur both lost. But it held true here, although if this was a best-of-one, we'd be saying otherwise.

Keothavong came out firing. She has a big rotation on her swing, and compared to Wozniacki's groundstrokes, it made the Londoner's shot look even more risky. When Keothavong takes the ball early, her opponents have something to worry about, which is what Wozniacki felt early on. Given plenty of opportunites to connect with her forehand, Keothavong did damage as long as she didn't hit herself out of the point.

That, more or less, is what happened in the next two sets, which Wozniacki took comfortably aside from a second-set letdown which saw her 3-0 lead evaporate. But although Keothavong leveled the set and raised the possibility of an upset, all her surge did was put the score on level terms, and she couldn't sustain that play from beginning to end. Once Wozniacki took the second set, she loosened up, both on serve and on the baseline, and Keothavong was forced to go for more—too much more, as her unforced error count showed.

Wozniacki had weathered the storm, both from her opponent and the crowd, and her passage to round two was cleared when the final of Keothavong's pile of errors was noted on the record book. Woznaicki's strategy worked today, but—and stop me if you've heard this—it's tough to see it holding up through superior competition, and into the medal rounds.

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