Caroline Wozniacki joined the procession of former World No 1s out of the Wimbledon Championships on the notorious No 2 Court on Friday.
Court 2 over the years hasn't really been my friend. I was hoping to strike up a friendship this year. It wasn't to happen Caroline Wozniacki
Her vanquisher, China’s Shuai Zhang, scored her first win against a top 20 player in 2019, coming from behind to win in an hour and 21 minutes, 6-4 6-2.
Wozniacki threw away and early lead after having been faster out of the blocks and streaking to a 4-0 lead with a double break in hand, before Zhang woke up to reel off 6 games on the bounce.
The 14th seed was unhappy with the line calling, particularly in the second set, blaming Hawk-Eye for losing 3 points and having a protracted talk with the umpire.
“How are we playing with Hawk-Eye that is this bad? It’s not fair!” Wozniacki raged at the umpire after 2 out calls were reversed to in.
“It’s so ridiculous. This is absurd. That one was far out, this one was maybe close, but it’s out. It’s crazy… obviously, it’s wrongly put.”
Her husband, former NBA player David Lee, was also raging in the stands as he signalled with his finger how far out he felt the shots landed.
The former Golden State Warriors star shouted as he felt his wife was robbed of vital points in the match.
The umpire insisted ‘we are calling the game as we see it’ and play continued, but shortly after Wozniacki was beaten.
Later Wozniacki told the press: “I thought there was a few ones that I saw way differently. But it is what it is. You can’t really change a Hawk-Eye call. Maybe it was right. I just saw it differently.
“But you trust Hawk-Eye normally. You trust that it tells you the right thing. Sometimes you do see the balls a little differently than what the Hawk-Eye is. At least you know, okay, you can get it out of your mind.
“I do believe that it was not in the ideal place today.”
Wozniacki failed to capitalise on break points, converting only 3 of the 14 opportunities she created in the match.
Having lost her equilibrium the great Dane managed to save a match point but Zhang landed the win with a deft volley on the second to become the first into the round of 16 at Wimbledon.
From 4-0 down in the opening set, Zhang had barrelled through to her second career win against the former World No 1, breaking Wozniacki’s serve in 5 consecutive return games.
The World No 50, who has been ranked as high as 23, saved 3 break points to hold serve and got on the scoreboard in the fifth game of the match.
It was the start of a 6 game run to seal the set, and although Zhang lost her serve in the opening game of the second, she won 4 straight games on the trot to take command of the upset.
Zhang hammered 26 winners to Wozniacki’s 8 in the match, and the reigning Australian Open doubles champion won 17 of 19 points when she ventured to net.
Having never before won a main draw match at Wimbledon, going 0-5 in her appearances, the 30-year-old Chinese will next face either Viktorija Golubic or Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska for a spot in her second career Grand Slam quarter-final.
Wozniacki has become notorious for falling at the fourth-round stage of the British Grand Slam, having done so on 6 occasions, but this time round the Dane failed to reach the second week.
“I think she played better, and that’s really it,” Wozniacki said later. “She’s been playing well this week.
“Court 2 over the years hasn’t really been my friend. I was hoping to strike up a friendship this year. It wasn’t to happen.
“Yeah, it’s too bad. I feel like I could have gone further, but she played better than me today. That’s really it. I can’t change it now.”
Elsewhere, the No 8 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine reached the 4th round for the second time in her career after she outlasted No 31 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece, 6-3 6-7(1) 6-2, in their third-round clash on No 3 Court.
The Ukrainian got a fortunate reprieve to make it through to the 3rd round having been in danger of going out to Margarita Gasparyan when the Russian was forced to retire through injury on Wednesday.
Svitolina, who made the round of 16 at the grass-court Grand Slam in 2017, held 2 match points in the second set before a Sakkari comeback pushed the contest into a decider.
In the end, the Ukrainian was able to carve out the victory after a tough 2 hours and 8 minutes of play.
In the first meeting between the two players, Svitolina won two-thirds of points on her first serve and 73 percent of points when she ventured to net, while Sakkari had 35 winners, 20 more than Svitolina, but the Greek came unglued with 48 unforced errors.
Sakkari drew first blood in the encounter, breaking for a 3-1 lead with a backhand return winner, but that would be the final game the Greek would muster in the opening frame.
Svitolina steadied herself as Sakkari’s unforced errors mounted, and the Ukrainian broke twice to reach 4-3, then held at love to win a 4th straight game to pull ahead 5-3.
Serving to stay in the set, Sakkari was unable to keep her errors under control, and dropped her serve at love, ceding the one-set lead to Svitolina, who won the last 10 points of the set, as part of her 5-game run to close it out.
Nevertheless, Sakkari started the second set strongly, earning 2 quick service breaks to race to a 3-0, double-break lead.
Svitolina grabbed a break back with a passing winner to get to 3-1, but Sakkari was able to stay just ahead through 5-4 with a series of groundstroke winners.
With the Greek serving for the set at 5-4, though, Svitolina fired superb backhands to reach triple break point, then drilled a forehand passing winner off of a drop-shot to break Sakkari to love and reach 5-5.
Svitolina brought up 2 match points on Sakkari’s serve at 6-5, but the Greek bravely saved the first with a volley winner and the second with an error-forcing forehand.
In the tiebreak, Sakkari continued to stay aggressive, and she reaped the benefits as she raced through it.
The Greek punched another winning volley to grab a 4-1 lead, and a stirring forehand winner brought her to 6-1 to give her 5 set points.
Svitolina double faulted to end the set, and Sakkari had come back from the brink of defeat to get to one set apiece.
In the decider, though, Svitolina broke early on but Sakkari wasn’t going to make it easy.
The Ukrainian received treatment for blisters on her right foot after the 5th game, before breaking again in the 7th, eventually taking the match on her 7th match point.
This is Svitolina’s 7th main draw appearance at Wimbledon and she faced disappointment last year, going out in the first round to Germany’s Tatjana Maria, one of four top-10 seeds to depart at this stage.
She performed much better in 2017, reaching the 4th round before falling to Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko.
Before taking up tennis, Sakkari had tried her hand at karate and gymnastics, but apparently had been thrown out for laughing too much.
Here on the lawns of SW19 it was serious business, though, and it is only the 4th time she has played here, matching her best performance by making it to the 3rd round.
On Monday, Svitolina will face either No 24 seed Petra Martic of Croatia or Danielle Collins of the United States for a spot in her first Wimbledon quarter-final.