Aussie Open: Serena returns at 4 months off, Wozniacki skids again




AUSTRALIAN OPEN, DAY 1, JAN 18 – Serena Williams played reasonably well to beat Camila Giorgi 6-4 7-5 in the first round at the Aussie Open. The No. 1 hadn’t played for four months – which is a long time – but as she said, the older you get, the easier it is to understand how you will preform at the Grand Slams. As Serena said, she has been playing tennis for 30 years (she is 34 years old) so she knows how to play. That is true, but her knee was hurt 10 days ago so it’s possible that it could become super sore, which could threaten her.

Fortunately, Serena won’t play against the seeds until the quarters. No. 27 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova lost against the Russian Darya Kasatkina, No. 17 Sara Errani went down against another Russian Margarita Gasparyan. The youngsters are rising.

No.16 Caroline Wozniacki lost against Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan. But what about the former No. 1 Wozniacki? How did she go down so ridiculously? As the Dane said, she “played like shit.” In 2014, she looked like she was coming back, reaching the final of the US Open, hitting harder, faster, stronger and with much more confidence.

But last year, after she reached the final at Stuttgart against Angie Kerber, she was right there in the third set. But towards the end, she backed up, she pushed the ball, she lost and after that, she skidded. Big time. If Wozniacki doesn’t change, she is not going to be able to win a major at all. Her backhand is always phenomenal, but beyond that, her forehand is spotty and isn’t very powerful; her serve is mediocre; and his return is spotty. She is simply not aggressive enough. Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova have all won multiple majors, and they all can be aggressive when they need to. Wozniacki doesn’t. She really needs to bring in a new coach, not because her father and coach Piotr doesn’t understand tennis, but his daughter isn’t listening. Caro can ignore her coaches. If she is going to change and return to the top 5 someday, she has to start listening very soon.

Here were some good wins on Monday: Sharapova, the now healthy Kvitova (or she says), Genie Bouchard, Sveta Kuznetsova, Belinda Bencic (who is no longer sick), Carla Suarez Navarro, and a few more Americans: Nicole Gibbs, Laura Davis and Irina Falconi.

The most telling loss was by Samantha Stosur, who went down against ‘the other’ Kristyna Pliskova 6-4 7-6(6). The former US Open champion Stosur played at night on Rod Laver and while she didn’t freeze up, she didn’t mix it up at all. The Aussie was way too predictable and she didn’t yank the somewhat slow Croatian around. Credit for Kristyna (her better twin sister is Karolina Pliskova) who hung in there, but Stosur looked lost. It is amazing that during the past 10 years, she has done almost nothing playing in Australia. At the US Open, and at Roland Garros, she has been tremendous, but at home, she swallows up. Maybe next year…

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