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Wozniacki: “It definitely sucks and it's disappointing”

  • Matt Trollope

Nothing about what transpired early on Wednesday at Melbourne Park was expected. 

Caroline Wozniacki was cruising under the roof at John Cain Arena on a rainy day, building a 6-1 2-0 lead over qualifier Maria Timofeeva. 

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She had already made a successful comeback to the sport last August as a mother of two, advancing to the fourth round of the US Open and pushing eventual champ Coco Gauff to three sets.

Wozniacki's start gave no hint of what was to follow

Between then and now, a few more months of diligent preparation meant Wozniacki arrived in Melbourne feeling good in both body and game. 

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But from that ascendant position against Timofeeva, she lost 12 of the next 15 games to exit the tournament.

Less than 30 minutes earlier, at nearby Rod Laver Arena, No.6 seed Ons Jabeur was eliminated by 16-year-old phenom Mirra Andreeva.

The result itself was perhaps not the biggest shock. Andreeva is one of the game’s brightest and fastest-rising stars, a recent Brisbane quarterfinalist who was facing a player struggling for form and who had not played this season prior to AO 2024.

The manner of the defeat, however, was jaw-dropping. 

Andreeva expertly unravelled an out-of-sorts Jabeur in just 54 minutes, winning 6-0 6-2.

It makes Andreeva the youngest player in the Open Era to hand a top-10 seed a first-set bagel at a major tournament. 

She is also the second-youngest player in the Open Era to lose fewer than three games against a top-10 seed at a Slam. The youngest was Jelena Dokic, when she overwhelmed world No.1 Martina Hingis in the first round of Wimbledon in 1999.

“Mirra, obviously I think everyone knows about her. She's playing extremely well and fearless. She came on tour I think similar age to me,” Wozniacki observed.

“I think that's what it's always been, right? You have the young ones coming up, you have the older generation, you have kind of in between. 

“Tennis moves on.”

Timofeeva was euphoric after making it to the third round from qualifying

Wozniacki did not lose to a teenager, but Timofeeva is also a rising star, just 20 years of age and a winner of her first WTA title last year in Budapest.

Down a set and a break, few saw her recovering to beat the former world No.1 and Australian Open 2018 champion, a high-profile wildcard entry in 2024.

Wozniacki did not envisage such an outcome, either.

“I was planning on being here for a while longer,” said Wozniacki, who acknowledged Timofeeva played at an impressively high level as the match wore on.

“I need to just swallow this loss and then go from there, see how I feel, what I want to do. Honestly, I don't know right now [about my upcoming schedule].

“When you have the family here and you bring everyone, you want to win even more because you want to stay longer and not have to move around.

“It definitely sucks and it's disappointing. I felt like this was my match to win, and I didn't. I obviously sit here with a very disappointing feeling, because looking back, I feel like the match slid out of my hands. 

“At this point, there's nothing I can do about it, but obviously [I’m] playing a Grand Slam and you want to keep winning.”