Depth can't explain top seeds' baffling losses
The asterisk by Caroline Wozniacki's No. 1 ranking only grew Friday with the Dane's third-round loss at Roland Garros. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)
Caroline Wozniacki lost 6-1, 6-3 to Daniela Hantuchova today, one day after Kim Clijsters came unraveled against Arantxa Rus. Does the top two seeds getting blown out on consecutive days tell us anything about the women's field, or do you just chalk it up to bad days at the office for both?
It's in keeping with the theme of the past few years: the women's tour is sort of all over the place, which is both good and bad.
We have the player who'd won the last two majors go out to someone outside the top 50. We had the No. 1-ranked player who's never won a Slam win four games in her defeat. And the third betting favorite, Maria Sharapova, was a game from losing too, before her opponent (a 17-year-old wild card!) became overwhelmed by the moment. We very easily could have had maybe the three top players eliminated before the first weekend.
On the other hand, coming in we all knew this field was wide open and the tournament was up for grabs and players were inconsistent, and that's what we're getting so far.
We've heard it spun both ways: some praise the depth of the women's tour while others bemoan the lack of dominant players at the top. Is the truth somewhere in between?
I think there is depth. But I think what we saw these past few days wasn't an example of depth so much as two top players not rising to the challenge. Committing 65 unforced errors like Clijsters did, or winning four games off Daniela Hantuchova, is less about depth than about the top players not bringing the goods.
Gisela Dulko beating Sam Stosur is about depth. Clijsters spraying errors and committing 10 double faults is not.
With Wozniacki eliminated, who is your favorite to come out of that half of the draw?
Svetlana Kuznetsova is one of these players who should have been contending for years. Great athlete, lots of game, she's won majors. Hasn't done much this year, but looks like she's in form. She won the tournament in 2009. She's one of these players who should be ranked higher. For all the players who people think have inflated rankings, Kuznetsova is a player who should be ranked much higher than she is.
Any parting thoughts on Wozniacki?
If the top seed goes out its one thing. If it's the top seed who comes into the tournament with a lot of questions and smirks and asterisks can't win more than four games against Daniela Hantuchova, some of the skepticism is probably warranted. The one good takeaway is there's another Grand Slam starting in three weeks, and she'll be the No. 1 seed there too.
Does she have a better chance of breaking through for that elusive first Slam on grass? I think it's less a question of surface than: Can you win a major with such a defense-based game? At some point you need to be able to hit some winners.