Daniela Hantuchova, seed No. 28, created another upset in the women’s singles draw by crushing the world No. 1, Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, 6-1, 6-3.
The Slovakian only needed one hour and 13 minutes to overcome one of the great favourites to win the women’s singles title.
The last time that a No. 1 seed was knocked out this early in the competition was back in 2004, when Belgium’s Justine Henin exited the tournament in the second round.
Following the elimination of the Belgian Kim Clijsters, seed No. 2, in the second round yesterday, this is the first time in the history of Roland Garros that neither the first nor the second seed goes through to the Round of 16.
It is also the first time since the beginning of the Open era (in 1968) that neither the first nor the second seed has advanced to the Round of 16 in a Grand Slam tournament.
Caroline Wozniacki, who could have secured her place at the top of the WTA rankings until Wimbledon if she had won here today, is still deprived of a Grand Slam title. She has to be content with two Grand Slam semifinals, at the US Open in 2010 (against Russia’s Vera Zvonareva) and at the 2011 Australian Open (against China’s Na Li).
For her part, Daniela Hantuchova, who had never beaten Wozniacki in three confrontations, has now equalled her best result on the Parisian clay in her 10th appearance here at the Porte d’Auteuil. She had already reached the Round of 16 in 2002, 2006 and 2010.
The high point of Hantuchova’s career is still her semifinal at the Australian Open in 2008 (where she lost to Ana Ivanovic).
There are two ways to figure out why Wozniacki was outplayed today.
The first one is based on the number of tournaments the world No. 1 has played since the start of the season.
The Dane should never have played the Brussels Open last week, where she played two marathon matches, including one against French Open titleholder Francesca Schiavone in the semifinals and one against Shuai Peng of China in the final.
Also, Wozniacki played all warm-up tournaments prior to Roland Garros (Charleston, Stuttgart, Madrid, Rome and Brussels), while Vera Zvonareva, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, who are now big contenders for the title, only played at three tournaments.
Last year she made the same mistake and came to the majors with too many matches under her belt, which cost her dearly.
Daniela Hantuchova is the second reason why Wozniacki lost on Friday. The 28-year old did not panic during the whole match, which is probably the first time since her Indian Wells title back in 2007.
The Slovakian also managed to mix drop shots and forehand winners to outplay the world No. 1 player.
Hantuchova will face 2009 French Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova in the round of 16.