WIMBLEDON, England – Caroline Wozniacki believes her recent slump and slide in the rankings has more to do with bad luck than bad tennis.
The former top-ranked Dane lost two match points in the second set before falling to Tamira Paszek of Austria a 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the first round of Wimbledon on Wednesday.
Wozniacki has yet to win a title this year, was eliminated in the third round of the French Open and lost her first match at the grass-court warm-up tournament at Eastbourne.
Having ended both 2010 and 2011 as the top-ranked woman — albeit without winning a major — she has fallen to No. 7.
So could it be that her highly publicized relationship with golf Rory McIlroy — which began a year ago — is affecting her tennis?
"No," was the short and terse answer.
Instead, she pointed to factors like luck and Paszek hitting two balls on the line when saving one of her match points.
"I didn't think it was a bad match today," Wozniacki said. "You're going through periods where you're lucky, the luck is turning your way, you're not playing great, but you win the matches anyway.
"You go through periods where it's just not going your way. You just need to get through this. Hopefully, sooner than later, it will start turning my way."
She hadn't lost in the first round of a major since the 2007 French Open.
Paszek certainly wasn't an easy opponent, coming off a win at Eastbourne for her third WTA title. Against Wozniacki on Centre Court, she hit two winners to save match points when trailing 5-4 in the second set. Paszek erased an early break in the decider but failed to serve out the match at 5-3, only to break the seventh-seeded Wozniacki again to clinch the match.
"I had over two years where I was winning these matches," Wozniacki said. "I feel lately it's going the other way a little bit. It's not the first match this year where I have match points and not winning. You know, it's frustrating obviously. But it's tennis."
The match was halted because of rain on Tuesday with the score at 2-2 in the first set and it was interrupted again Wednesday by showers that forced organizers to slide the retractable roof over Centre Court. The match lasted 3 hours, 12 minutes — nearly two hours longer than Roger Federer's straight-sets win over Fabio Fognini.
"It was a good match, good tennis, but that doesn't really help me. I lost in the first round," Wozniacki said. "Tomorrow no one will remember how great a match it was, they'll just remember who won. It's not a nice feeling. Those are some of the matches that it's really great when you win them, but also really sucks when you lose. Especially after having two match points and not taking them."
Meanwhile, McIlroy will be playing in the Irish Open on Thursday. He's trying to break out of his own recent slump, having missed the cut in four of his last five tournaments and losing his No. 1 ranking to Luke Donald.
Wozniacki said she hasn't decided whether to fly to Northern Ireland to support him, having traveled to several of his tournaments previously over the last year.
"To be honest, right now I don't know what I'm going to do," she said. "I don't know what my plans are at the moment."