Caroline Wozniacki turned in another disappointing Grand Slam performance. (Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK -- Sixth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki's disappointing year at Grand Slam tournaments ended Saturday with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 loss to No. 136 Camila Giorgi in the third round of the U.S. Open. This result follows another defeat to a qualifier ranked outside the top 100 in the last major, as Wozniacki fell to 196th-ranked Petra Cetkovska in the second round of Wimbledon.
It was a star-making turn for the 21-year-old Giorgi, who played with unabashed aggression to keep Wozniacki on her heels through most of the match. The Italian hit 46 winners to 45 unforced errors, while Wozniacki hit just 13 winners to 27 unforced errors.
Three thoughts on a surprising, but not shocking, result:
Wozniacki lost the tactical war: This was a classic contrast of red-line basher (Giorgi) vs. impenetrable retriever (Wozniacki). Wozniacki's defensive skills can drive offensive players crazy, but as Giorgi began hitting her spots and cracking winners with more frequency in the second set, Wozniacki actually sank deeper into a defensive shell. She begged Giorgi to miss by pushing and moonballing and the Italian wasn't having it, smacking winners with ease.
Given that she has played more aggressively this summer, it was disappointing to see Wozniacki once again refuse to step in, take more risk and go for winners. That's not a comfortable tactic for her, but sending back no-pace short balls wasn't working either.
"I felt like I needed to push her back, but she took very high‑risk shots and things were going in for her," Wozniacki said. "She was going for the lines and she was hitting them when she wanted to."
Wozniacki added: "She was just hitting everything. It's tough to be really aggressive when someone is just going for every shot."
Giorgi pretty much agreed.
"I think I play better tactically maybe," she said quietly, clearly shy about her broken English. Asked what those tactics were, Giorgi's answer was so earnestly simple that reporters couldn't help but laugh. "Just when the ball came, just hit the ball in the corners." Nice strategy if you can pull it off.
Major slump: Wozniacki's results at the biggest tournaments continue to puzzle. She hasn't made it past the fourth round at a Slam since the Australian Open in 2012. This season she lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open to Svetlana Kuznetsova, the second round of the French Open to Bojana Jovanovski, the second round of Wimbledon to Cetkovska and now a third-round exit.
"Yeah, it wasn't the best year for me at the majors, but there is a next year," she said.
It's hard not to shake the sense that something has to change in Wozniacki's team if she's ever going to right the ship.
We've been waiting for you, Camila Giorgi: In just her second main-draw U.S. Open appearance, Giorgi has matched her career-best Slam result, a fourth-round run at Wimbledon last year. Her play is all the more impressive because she entered the U.S. Open with no match play since a third-round run at Wimbledon due to a shoulder injury. Now healthy, she's already won six matches (three in qualifying) to make the second week.
Giorgi has been a talent to keep an eye on for years, but her consistency has always been an issue. She's incredibly aggressive -- her WTA profile says she "views herself as an attacking, risk-taking player" -- and her single-minded focus of hitting the cover off the ball with every forehand can be scintillating when she's on and maddening when she's off. She was on against Wozniacki and it was fun to watch.