LONDON, (Reuters) – Having lost in the third round of the French Open last month, world number one Caroline Wozniacki decided to forget about tennis and focus on football.
The 20-year-old Dane headed to London to watch the Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium and the strategy appears to be paying off as she hurried past Australian Jarmila Gajdosova 6-3 6-2 in the third round of Wimbledon yesterday.
“I took some days’ rest … also mentally because I thought I just needed a break from everything,” she told reporters after her debut Centre Court outing of the year.
“I went to the Champions League final. Since I’m a Liverpool supporter, obviously I wanted Barca to win,” she said, referring to one of English soccer’s fiercest rivalries.
Even after returning home to Monaco, Wozniacki did her best to avoid tennis.
“My brother actually came by to visit, he and my parents wanted to watch tennis. Every time they turned it on, I went to another room.” Playing in front of a Royal Box packed with great British Olympians including rower Steve Redgrave and athlete Kelly Holmes, the top seed and her 24-year-old opponent started off with a series of quickfire service games.
“She was very aggressive. I knew she was going to be. She has a big serve and a big forehand,” Wozniacki said of her Slovakian-born opponent.
But a groundstroke into the net by Gajdosova at 4-3 gave the Dane the break she needed and as the sun threatened to break through the grey clouds she soon polished off the set.
The pair kept the crowd better entertained in the second set, battling it out with a series of captivating long rallies before Wozniacki snatched a break.
When the 27th seed came close to breaking straight back, Wozniacki chipped a superb backhand drop shot over the net to hold her ground.
“I knew that I shouldn’t be letting her in the game too much, because once she starts to believe that she can be there, then she’s not going to go away,” said Wozniacki.
Go away she soon did, smacking the ball wide to end the 66-minute contest and hand Wozniacki a last-16 clash with Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova.
“We grew up playing against each other in the juniors. So we know each other pretty well,” said Wozniacki, who is yet to make it beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon.
“It’s going to be a game where I need to keep my serve up. I need to get a lot of balls back and try to take the initiative and make her run.”