Halfway through the women’s tennis year and Caroline Wozniacki has released more music videos (one – ‘Oxygen’) than she has won titles (none). It takes a lot for Wozniacki’s face to cloud over – she is the sunniest lady in tennis – but there was no hiding her feelings as she closed in on a third-round defeat to Kaia Kanepi. In a season filled with small, medium and large disappointments, here was another – file this one down as medium to large.
Having started the year as the world No 1, the Dane now looks as though she is heading out of the top 10, and there can be little doubt that Thomas Johansson, a former Australian Open champion and Wozniacki’s new coach, is going to be busy. Throughout Wozniacki’s time at the top of the tennis tree, she was constantly criticised for her failure to have won a grand slam title, as if it was somehow her fault how the ranking computer did its sums. One theory was that, when she lost the No 1 ranking, she would be able to play a little freer.
In this age of Facebook and Twitter, and players reaching their fans through their phones and their iPads, there was something endearing about Mikhail Youzhny communicating to the Roland Garros spectators by drawing in the clay. Embarrassed by how his non-match of a match against Spain’s David Ferrer was playing out – he was being thrashed – the Russian used his foot to write ‘Sorry’ in the dirt. In fact, he wrote ‘Sorri’, but forgive him the mispelling as he was scribbling in his second language.
It was somehow much more poignant than that time that Gustavo Kuerten celebrated winning the French Open title by drawing a heart with his racket (or when Kanepi marked her victory over Wozniacki by doing the exact same thing). Kuerten’s and Kanepi’s gestures were overly sentimental; Youzhny’s message in the clay was touching because it was driven by embarrassment: “I’m not sure whether people in the stands noticed, but I felt as though I had to do this.”