Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Wozniacki Stuns Sharapova, Appears to Be Thriving Without Rory
NEW YORK — Caroline Wozniacki stunned 2006 U.S. Open champion Maria Sharapova in three sets on Sunday for maybe the biggest victory of her career.
Wozniacki, the No. 10 seed and former world No. 1, remains alive for her first Grand Slam singles title and will meet No. 13 Sara Errani in the quarterfinals.
“I honestly think this could be the biggest win of her life,” CBS analyst Mary Carillo said on air after Wozniacki downed Sharapova, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in 2 hours, 37 mintes.
“Yeah, definitely it ranks up there,” said Wozniacki, who reached the semifinals here in 2010 and ’11 (as the No. 1 seed) but hadn’t advanced past the third round since. “Maria obviously is a tough competitor. She’s won here before. She won the French Open this year. You know, it was a really good win for me. Beating her here at the US Open, you know, it’s a tough task. I’m really happy to be through and have another chance to play in the next round.
Wozniacki went through a much-publicized breakup with golf star Rory McIlroy in May, but according to stats compiled by Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times, Wozniacki is doing better without him.
According to those stats, Wozniacki went 246-93 (72 percent) before she dated McIlroy, 118-58 (67 percent) while with him and is now 23-6 (79 percent) after their breakup.
“I’ve always had a very laid-back approach,” Wozniacki said recently, according to the Telegraph. “I go with the flow. Right now I’m happy being by myself and being single and doing what I want to do, the things I haven’t been doing the last few years. It’s obviously hard to have a relationship when you’re on tour and travel this much but again I’m not stressed. If it’s meant to be it’s going to be.”
Sharapova had won five of the previous seven encounters with Wozniacki but came impressed with the current state of her game.
“I think she’s better at what she’s done really well in her career,” Sharapova said. “I think she’s moving extremely well; she’s fit. I mean, she’s always been fir, but there is a little bit more on her defense shots. It’s not just balls up in the air. She’s doing a little bit more with them. But she did that really well today.”
As the No. 1 seed and No. 1 player in the world in 2011, huge expectations were placed upon Wozniacki, who ended up losing to Serena Williams that year in the semifinals.
Now, the pressure is off her and she has scored perhaps the biggest win of her career.
“You know, it’s a new year and I’ve gotten older – and hopefully a little wiser,” she said. “You know, I feel good. I feel comfortable when I play out there. The crowd was amazing today. It’s just so much fun to play out there again on the big court.”
With the ouster of the No. 5 seed Sharapova, the Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 seeds are all out on the women’s side, making Serena’s chances of a three-peat in Queens all the more likely.
Williams, who is slated to play her fourth round match against Kaia Kanepi on Monday, has won 17 straight matches in Flushing Meadows and hasn’t lost at the Open since the 2011 final.
After Serena, the highest remaining seed on the women’s side is No. 7 Genie Bouchard, who plays Monday against No. 17 Ekaterina Makarova.
Bouchard could meet Williams in the semifinals, while Wozniacki wouldn’t have to face Serena until the final.
“I know I’m playing Sara Errani,” Wozniacki said. “Obviously now there are only a few players left so I kind of know who is in my half. It’s never easy. It’s always easy on paper but never easy in reality. If it was, then all of us would be sitting here as No. 1 in the world and plenty of Grand Slam titles in our pockets. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.