January 18, 2016
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki suffered the humiliation of a first-round exit at the Australian Open – thanks to an interesting psychological ploy from her opponent, the little-known Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.
The secret to winning is, apparently, simple – pretend you’re losing.
Putintseva explained her strategy as though it was the easiest psychological trick in the world to deploy under extreme physical duress.
‘I was cramping all the third set…I tried to keep my emotions inside and imagine I was losing, actually. It’s easier that way.’
Not that it had been difficult for Putintseva to imagine that she was losing the first set. She got thrashed 1-6 in the opener.
Wozniacki observed: ‘It wasn’t a pretty first set but I got it done and really should have closed it off in two.’
‘You know, I let her back into the match and it was basically my own fault that I’m not here as the winner.’
The contest turned on a second-set tie-break, eventually won 7-3 by the underdog.
Wozniacki had physical challenges of her own as she needed time out to strap an injured ankle in the third. But Putintseva showed the greater psychological strength to play through her own pain barrier with extra determination, winning the deciding set 6-4.
Poor Caroline, ex-fiancee of golfer Rory McIlroy, could now drop out of the world top 20, a traumatic fall from grace after she ruled the rankings briefly in 2010 and then for longer in 2011.
Wozniacki’s exit wasn’t the only surprise on Day One of the Aussie Open, as America’s Sloane Stephens crashed out to world number 102 Qiang Wang of China.
The Asian woman’s superb 6-3, 6-3 victory caught Stephens by surprise and it was all over before the favourite had time to show her true worth.
In the month of David Bowie’s sad passing, this seems to have been a case of “Qiang Wang, Thank You Ma’am,” to borrow one of the pop legend’s best-known lyrics. The “China Girl” certainly held sway when it mattered.
Meanwhile it was business as usual for Aussie bad-boy Nick Krygios, pictured above, who received his first “obscenity warning” of the tournament during a straight sets win over Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain.
Will the volatile Krygios calm down as the tournament progresses? Maybe…but prepare for more fireworks too, just in case.