Caroline Wozniacki’s swan song continues after staving off retirement with a drama-laden first-round win at the 2020 Australian Open.
The 2018 Australian Open champion was one game away from moving onto the third round when her opponent, Dayana Yastremska, called a medical timeout.
“Yeah, obviously, she tried to break my rhythm,” Wozniacki said to reporters after the match. “At 5-4, I don’t think there was anything wrong, she was running just fine. That’s a trick that she’s done before and I knew it was coming.”
Despite the distraction, the 29-year-old Wozniacki closed out the match, 7-5, 7-5, by breaking the Ukrainian’s serve in the final game.
“I was just trying to stay focused. I had match point. I had chances. I didn’t take them. Some of them she played well, some of them I played too passively. In the end I just tried to keep focusing, just keep grinding, keep hanging in there. And I finally made it at 6-5 for me, and that was a nice relief,” Wozniacki said.
After the match, Yastremska was quick to dismiss those accusations and cited a left hip injury that she suffered in the Brisbane International recently, as well as right leg pain that had surfaced during this tournament, as her reasons.
“I took [the timeout] because I felt I needed it,” Yastremska said.
Yastremska, 21, has been accused of using medical timeouts when trailing her opponents to gain competitive advantage in past tournaments. She was facing a 5-2 deficit in the third set during last year’s final at the Thailand Open against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic when she called a medical timeout. The strategy worked to her favor and she rallied to win the final set 7-6.
Most recently, Yastremska took a timeout during the round of 32 match at the Brisbane International earlier this month against Dutch player Kiki Bertens. When asked about the incident, Bertens said, “Well, I played her three times and three times it’s happened, so that’s my answer.” Bertens won the match 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
WTA regulations permit players to call for on-court treatment during the change of ends, but the abuse of which can result in a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct if officials believe gamesmanship is a factor.
Wozniacki shocked the tennis world in December by announcing her plans to retire after the Australian Open.
“I’ve played professionally since I was 15 years old,” she wrote in an Instagram post on Dec. 6. “In that time I’ve experienced an amazing first chapter of my life.”
The former world No. 1 was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2018. She insists that her decision to retire, however, “has nothing to do with my health and this isn’t a goodbye, I look forward to sharing my exciting journey ahead with all of you!” Wozniacki got married to former Knicks player David Lee in June.
Her father, Piotr Wozniacki said he had hoped his daughter would have retired by 25 or 26.
“She has had a fantastic career, but there is also a next step in life,” he said in an interview. “I say that ‘we’ made that decision, because it was also important that I affirm Caroline that it was the right one.”
Wozniacki advances to face unseeded Tunisian Ons Jabeur on Thursday.
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