EASTBOURNE, England — No one ever likes to win by retirement, but Caroline Wozniacki was happy with the way she played in her first grass-court match of the season. She won in the first round at the Aegon International on Tuesday after defending champion Tamira Paszek retired down 6-2, 2-2 due to a left thigh injury.
With a jet-lagged Rory McIlroy in the seats to cheer her on, Wozniacki was able to earn some revenge over Paszek, who saved match points to beat her at Wimbledon last year.
Wozniacki’s face lit up as she discussed the transition to grass, clearly happy to leave the clay — her worst surface by far – behind.
“[S]ome of it was tactical,” Wozniacki said, referring to her 1-5 stretch on the European clay that ended with a second-round loss to Bojana Jovanovski at the French Open. “Some of it was just not making the right decisions on the clay. Sometimes you expect a different ball, especially when you play on hard court or grass, and you just don’t get that ball on clay. So I think that just was probably the main problem for me.”
Her arrival to grass also sees a significant equipment change. Sponsored by Yonex since 2011 (she had played with a Babolat stick for her entire career until then), Wozniacki took the court Tuesday with a blacked-out racket. She’s still using the same strings as she has in the past, but she’s hoping the new racket will help her generate more spin and power. However, she says the move isn’t related to her dismal clay season.
“I’m just tinkering a little bit with my racket,” Wozniacki said. “I’m still under contract with Yonex, so we’re just trying to figure out, a racket that can help me a little bit more with my game. … I just feel like I needed a little bit more power and the racket will help.”
Wozniacki could get a rematch of her lone win at the French Open, against Laura Robson, in the second round. Robson was scheduled to play Yuliya Beygelzimer, a Ukrainian qualifier, later Tuesday.