Caroline Wozniacki unintentionally became embroiled in an issue that is gathering momentum at Wimbledon. The Danish player fell out at the fourth round stage in two sets 6-2, 7-5 and was sucked into the ongoing debate over slow play.
Woziacki had little to gripe about as the barely 5ft 5ins Barbora Strycova mixed her game nicely and kept the 16th seed off her rhythm. Strycova comfortably came to the net and sliced Woziacki out of her backcourt, the changing pace of the game and decent serving from a relatively small opponent unsettling and ultimately fatal.
The former world number one Wozniacki has never made it through to the quarter-final stage at Wimbledon and has yet to win a Grand Slam. Her best run has been to the quarter-finals stages Roland Garros and the Australian Open in 2012.
During the match Wozniacki appeared to feel the 43rd-ranked Czech player was taking too long between points. It has been an ongoing problem with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal drawn into what is becoming more of a disagreement than a debate. In the Grand Slam events, players have no longer than 25 seconds between points. "I thought she was very slow," said Wozniacki. "I guess the referee. . . he has the time on it. If she's within the time, I guess it's okay. It's up to the referee or the umpire to say if it's okay."
Strycova has now been sucked in as it’s a rule, which appears not to be enforced. Federer has jumped in too and criticised the current number one Nadal for his time consuming rituals and slow pace of play. The Spaniard has been the worst offender and his second-round opponent,
said that he was taking up to a minute between points.
“What you are going to see next all of a sudden is a shot clock,” said Federer. “Because you only just need a couple of guys always doing it and that’s when it happens. We have seen it in so many other sports - people who push it too much and then you have to go to the other extreme to counter that. Yeah, the umpires have got a little less aggressive again.”
It clearly distracted Wozniacki, although, she declined to say it was a factor in her disappointing performance. But Strycova’s pedestrian pace between points was enough for the downbeat 23-year-old to agree the decision over time between points should be taken from the chair umpire.
“I wouldn’t mind,” she said. “I mean I think that’s fine. It shows exactly how much time you take between points.”
Wozniacki wasn't the only disappointed hopeful yesterday as rain continued to cause havoc on the outside courts with Alize Cornet also tumbling against the aggressive Canadian Eugenie Bouchard. Cornet out-bossed Serena Williams and could have expected a lucrative run this week. Three-day match
She was one of the players with a dry first match but crashed 7-6, 7-5, while
ended a three-day match that began on Saturday and ended with her exit.
Sabine Lisicki took three extended sets to finally put Ivanovic away too easily 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 and fourth-seed Agnieszka Radwanska falling in a two set dismissal.
Lisicki and Ivanovic were business like in their tempo with the Czech winner advancing with two of her colleagues – Petra Kvitova beating defeated Shuai Peng 6-3, 6-2 in 61 minutes and Lucie Safarova brushing aside another Czech player Tereza Smitkova 6-0, 6-2 in 48 minutes. Ouch.
Whatever they are doing in the Czech Republic it was working. By teatime yesterday there were three Czech players into the last eight, back in their hotels watching the rain pour down on the All England Club.