Tennis-Women's game suffers pummelling just like top seeds


Fri, 27 May 18:22:00 2011

One French Open pundit this week described world number one Caroline Wozniacki as playing "moonballing nonsense" and after the Dane and second seed Kim Clijsters crashed out, the women's game generally is under fire.

Wozniacki, top seed despite never having won a grand slam, was completely outplayed in her 6-1 6-3 third-round defeat by 28th seed Daniela Hantuchova on Friday, leaving the draw even more wide open than it was before the claycourt event began.

Clijsters lost on Thursday to unknown Dutch youngster Arantxa Rus and blamed a "wrong attitude" rather than injury problems while last year's finalist Samantha Stosur was beaten on Friday by unseeded Argentine Gisela Dulko.

Gone are the days of enthralling battles between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova or Steffi Graf and Monica Seles, something the men's game has in bucketloads thanks to the greatness of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and now Novak Djokovic.

Asked what the new generation of Wozniacki and company had brought to the game, 2009 Roland Garros winner Svetlana Kuznetsova told Reuters: "Not much, no. Clijsters and the Williams sisters are much better."

The Williams duo are out after long-term injuries and if they return, they are unlikely to be able to hit the heights of their early years. That still might be good enough to win a host more grand slam titles.

This is the first time since 1971 that the top two women's seeds have failed to advance to the fourth round at the French Open and commentators and journalists are sharpening their words and pencils to punch holes in the women's game.


Hantuchova, who had lost her previous six matches against world number ones, tried to defend the WTA tour by reckoning that unpredictability prompted more excitement.

"It shows how strong women's tennis is, anyone can beat anyone," she said, before explaining why her grand slam record was so poor in the past.

"I was really unlucky I always had to face the Williams sisters."

Third seed Vera Zvonareva and Francesca Schiavone, a shock winner last year, are now favourites for the trophy but the Russian needed opponent Sabine Lisicki to go down suddenly with a health problem to come back and win their second-round match.

She beat Anastasia Rodionova of Australia 6-2 6-3 on Friday to get back on track.

Wozniacki, who only managed eight winners in a defeat on her least favourite surface, rolled her eyes in frustration at the latest question about whether she deserved to be number one and whether the women's game was flawed.

"Tennis is a sport where only one person can win. There are lots of great players out there. It's a game where when you go out there you only have a 50 percent chance to win," she snarled.

"I don't read the newspapers. Everyone has an opinion."


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