New York, Aug 31 : Caroline Wozniacki opened her latest quest for her first Grand Slam title with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain on Tuesday.
It was a drama-free afternoon in Arthur Ashe Stadium that left the most interesting stuff for the post-match interview.
How were things going with Rory McIlroy, golf's reigning U.S. Open champion whom she started dating this summer?
“You know, he has something I'm looking for and I have something he's looking for,” she said. “He wants to be No. 1. So it's good to have something on each other.”
Does the No. 1 ranking, when it's not accompanied by a major title, feel like a burden or an honor?
“I'm trying to stay up there as long as possible, and it doesn't really matter what people are saying,” she said. “No one can ever take that away from me.”
And why not end the suspense and tell us who that new coach of yours is?
“Yeah, well, I have to respect him, as well,” she said. “So if he wants to be in the background and not have his name out, I have to respect that.”
Though she's refusing to name names, Wozniacki is clearly looking for another gear and a few more weapons as she tries to add to a resume that includes 46 of the last
47 weeks at No. 1 but no major championships and only one trip to a Grand Slam final—two years ago at the U.S. Open, when she lost to Kim Clijsters.
She had what some viewed as a rough summer, losing her first match at both Toronto and Cincinnati—considered key leadups to the year's last Grand Slam. But last week,
she won for the fourth straight year at New Haven, and suddenly, the critics seem more like alarmists.
“I know that I'm back on track,” she said. “I know that everyone has to write their stories, but I think we should move on. Ask me about something else, something more interesting.”
There wasn't much interesting about this match, except maybe for the observation that Wozniacki didn't need to bring out any new weapons to defeat Llagostera Vives, the diminutive counterpuncher ranked 125th and playing her first singles match on the U.S. Open main show court.
This was typical Wozniacki—steady groundstrokes and long points, made longer on a surface that players say has been playing slower this year.
A number of the ex-players who now work as analysts on TV say Wozniacki's kind of game isn't suited to winning Grand Slams, especially not the kind of grind that the U.S. Open can be. Wozniacki isn't listening.
“They can say what they want,” she said. “I'm the type of player I am. I've won a lot of tournaments. I'm No. 1 in the world, and of course I can still improve. There are a lot of things to my game I can still improve, but everyone can.” AP