WIMBLEDON, Great Britain -- Another top seed has fallen in the early rounds of Wimbledon, as former Top 10 player Ekaterina Makarova of Russia eked past No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 in the second round on Wednesday. Wozniacki's loss means Simona Halep will remain World No.1 after Wimbledon.
"It was quite good emotions, and I’m so happy," Makarova said, in her post-match press conference. "It was very difficult, Caroline is a very difficult opponent, and every time we play against each other, it’s very tough matches, most of them three sets."
Reigning Australian Open champion Wozniacki won their first seven meetings between 2008 and 2014, but they had played just once in the last four years, and Makarova prevailed in that encounter, in the second round of the US Open last year. For the second straight meeting, the Russian ended Wozniacki's hopes of taking home a Grand Slam title in the second round.
"We played at the US Open, second round, and I beat her there for the first time, after seven losses," said Makarova. "I tried to replay that match and to understand what was working very good for me in that match, and it worked today again. These kind of shots which I played, they were working very good."
Former World No.8 Makarova had seven aces in the match, and survived a second-set fightback by the current World No.2 to outlast Wozniacki in two hours and nine minutes, despite winning fewer points than her opponent during the tilt.
Makarova, who is also co-ranked World No.1 in doubles with her usual partner Elena Vesnina, will now face another unseeded player in the third round, Czech Lucie Safarova, who took out No.32 seed and 2012 Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska earlier on Wednesday. Safarova leads the head-to-head with Makarova by 4-1, and the Czech beat the Russian in the 2014 Wimbledon quarterfinals.
Makarova got off to a flying start, winning eight of the first nine points en route to a quick 2-0 lead. The Russian left-hander attacked with her punishing backhand to jump to triple break point on Wozniacki’s serve at 3-1, and though the Dane saved those three, as well as a fourth, Makarova broke serve again on her fifth chance to lead 4-1.
Wozniacki found her way into the match near the latter stages of the set, reaching a break point at 5-2 by chasing down a dropshot and returning it with a dropshot winner of her own, then claiming one break of serve back after a Makarova backhand flew long. The Dane quickly held at love for 5-4, putting pressure on Makarova to close out the set.
But the Russian came through in the next game, clinching the one-set lead with a forehand passing shot down the line for a clean winner. Makarova won 75 percent of points on her first serve during the opening frame, and claimed two-thirds of points at net.
Wozniacki’s improving play, though, stuck around in the second set, which she dominated. After a quick hold in the opening game, the No.2 seed broke Makarova for 2-0 after the Russian unleashed a plethora of errors. Makarova squandered a game point in her next service game with a dropshot attempt that found the net, and hit two straight forehand miscues from deuce to fall behind 4-0.
Makarova reclaimed the rhythm on her serve and forehand to hold for 5-1, but Wozniacki was zoning, and held at love with a backhand winner to tie the match at one set apiece. Wozniacki won 87 percent of points on her first serve in the second set, while Makarova had 12 unforced errors, six times more than Wozniacki’s two.
But Makarova was determined to turn the tide in the decider, and used her versatile forehand, both crosscourt and down the line, to break Wozniacki and lead 3-1. The 2nd seed found herself in danger once more in her next service game, and Makarova broke again for 5-1 behind a backhand crosscourt winner.
Wozniacki steeled herself despite facing a huge deficit, and broke Makarova as the Russian served for the match at 5-1. Makarova, however, seemed to cruise through her next service game, reaching triple match point at 5-3 after a long service return by Wozniacki.
But the Dane pressured Makarova into ceding all three of those chances, and they reached deuce. Makarova claimed a fourth match point via a backhand winner down the line, but from there, two straight errors and a double fault led to a second straight break of serve. Wozniacki then held at love for 5-5, and it was a new match.
Makarova somehow composed herself, surviving a long service game to hold for 6-5 with another backhand winner down the line, and put Wozniacki near defeat once more. Here, the Dane faltered, and mistakes led to three more match points for Makarova. Wozniacki saved one with an ace, but, on her sixth match point overall, Makarova pummeled a backhand winner for a stunning victory.
"[Wozniacki is] kind of a player who is fighting until the end, no matter which score, and she never will miss," Makarova stated. "So I knew that I’d need to make a winner on the match point, and maybe at that moment, I was a little bit hurried up. I wanted so much to be aggressive as soon as possible, and it was not a lot of first serves [for me]."
"But then at 5-5, I said to myself, ‘Okay, calm down, start over,’ and it worked," the Russian continued. "I was so quiet, and tried not to think ‘What was the score now?’ And just point by point, finally it finished my way."