Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, right, congratulates Tamira Paszek of Austria after she won their first round women's singles match at Wimbledon, England, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Caroline Wozniacki thinks her recent slump and slide in the rankings has more to do with bad luck than bad tennis — and that it certainly isn't related to her relationship with golfer Rory McIlroy.
The former top-ranked Dane wasted two match points in the second set before losing to Tamira Paszek of Austria in the first round of Wimbledon on Wednesday, perhaps her most disappointing result in a season that has seen a lot of them.
Wozniacki has yet to win a title this year, was eliminated in the third round of the French Open and lost her first match at the grass-court warmup tournament at Eastbourne this month as well.
Having ended both 2010 and 2011 as the world's top-ranked woman — albeit without ever winning a major — she has fallen to No. 7.
So could it be that her highly publicized relationship with McIlroy — which began a year ago — could be affecting her tennis?
"No," was the short and terse answer from Wozniacki when asked.
Instead, she pointed to factors like luck and the fact that Paszek hit two balls on the line when saving one of her match points.
"I didn't think it was a bad match today," Wozniacki said. "You're going through periods where you're lucky, the luck is turning your way, you're not playing great, but you win the matches anyway. You go through periods where it's just not going your way. You just need to get through this. Hopefully sooner than later it will start turning my way."
Paszek certainly wasn't an easy first-round opponent, having just won Eastbourne for her third WTA title. Against Wozniacki on Centre Court, she hit two winners to save the Dane's match points when trailing 5-4 in the second set. Paszek then erased an early break in the decider but failed to serve out the match at 5-3, only to break the seventh-seeded Wozniacki again to clinch a 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory.
"I had over two years where I was winning these matches," Wozniacki said. "I feel lately it's going the other way a little bit. It's not the first match this year where I have match points and not winning. You know, it's frustrating obviously. But it's tennis."
The match was halted because of rain on Tuesday with the score at 2-2 in the first set and it was interrupted again by showers that forced organizers to slide the retractable roof over Centre Court. The match lasted 3 hours, 12 minutes — nearly two hours longer than Roger Federer's straight-sets win over Fabio Fognini in the preceding match.
"It was a good match, good tennis, but that doesn't really help me. I lost in the first round," Wozniacki said. "Tomorrow no one will remember how great a match it was, they'll just remember who won. It's not a nice feeling. Those are some of the matches that it's really great when you win them, but also really sucks when you lose. Especially after having two match points and not taking them."
McIlroy, meanwhile, will be playing in the Irish Open on Thursday trying to break out of his own recent dip in form that has seen him miss the cut in four of his last five tournaments and lose his No. 1 ranking to Luke Donald. Wozniacki said she has yet to decide whether to fly to Northern Ireland to support him, having traveled to several of his tournaments previously over the last year.
"To be honest, right now I don't know what I'm going to do," she said. "I don't know what my plans are at the moment."