July 11, 2020

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MELBOURNE – It took a little deft maneuvering just to get Canadian veteran Aleksandra Wozniak into the Australian Open qualifying at all.

But as quickly as she was in, she was out Thursday in the first round, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 to Anna Tatishvili of Georgia.

The 26-year-old from Blainville, Que. led by a set and 2-0 in the second set and threatened to make it 3-0 and put the match away, before a combination of Tatishvili’s competitiveness and Wozniak’s lack of match play conspired to shuffle her out of the event.

Wozniak’s match in pics

Wozniak’s ranking stood at about No. 280 when the lists for qualifying closed, not high enough to get her in. And although she can still play on a protected ranking because of her long injury layoff, the rules only allow that special ranking to be used for one Grand Slam tournament – and Wozniak used it at the U.S. Open last fall.

Tennis Canada did a little bartering (expect some young Australian player to get special consideration at next summer’s Rogers Cup) to get her a qualifying wild card. But her abject lack of match play since returning from her shoulder woes showed once again.

When it was going well, Wozniak was the one dictating the rallies, and Tatishvili was the one ultimately making the error. When it wasn’t going well, it was the opposite.

The serve, in particular, let Wozniak down. And her patience deserted her as well.

wozniak2_new

After leading the second set 2-0, she lost six straight games with errors that hadn’t been visible during the first set.

Some key double faults weren’t just near-misses; they were mishits that barely made it halfway up the net.

But still, this being women’s tennis, it wasn’t over even as Tatishvili served for the match at 5-3 in the third set with fresh, new balls.

She began with a double fault, and essentially broke herself.

But Wozniak couldn’t capitalize; she began the final game with another shaky double fault. And her long trip to the other side of the world is over: two tournaments, two matches.

She lost to a Swiss qualifier named Viktorija Golubic (ranked No. 196) in a tough three-setter at her season-opening event in Shenzen, China.

And now, one and done in Australia.

Since returning to the tour last August, shortly before the U.S. Open, Wozniak has won two matches and lost eight. It’s a long road back.