How do you think Caro is making her opponents look a lot better than they actually are?
Caro's lack of confidence really shows in these big moments. Prevailing in these situations would give her confidence but lacking confidence makes that really difficult. She's got to somehow bs her way to success in the big moments.
I think Caro is pretty easy to get on the back foot, and if you just hit with her, eventually she coughs up a short ball, normally from her forehand side, for any aggressive player to hit at. I think players are confident in doing this because they don't really feel threatened by what Caro is doing, they don't feel rushed by her ball, that aura has gone. What Jamie Hampton said to her coach at Eastbourne was kind of an insight into how her opponents think. She said (paraphrasing) 'I know she can't really hurt me, and I just need to wait for the right ball and execute better', she also said something like 'she's not doing a lot, I'm just giving her the mistakes'. That has to be frightening to listen to for Caro's camp, the world number 41 doesn't feel threatened by anything you are doing whatsoever. The only really safe opponents for Caro these days feel these players that have absolutely no weapons whatsoever to hurt her with, the Cabeza Candela's and the like, and there aren't many of those around.
In general it's simple, it's easier to look good vs weaker opposition. I always think back to Sharapova looking devastating early rounds of AO, and then getting rolled over in her first tough match when thinking along these lines. I don't believe for a second that most the top players would have allowed Cirstea to play the way she did, unfortunately Cirstea plays Kvitova next round which won't highlight a lot, would have shown more if we'd seen the way Radwanska or Errani dealt with her. You know the rough figures yourself anyway, the large majority of her victors are losing next match, they can't all be magically losing form overnight.
And yes it's obvious despite what she has said about her confidence being fine, that she is desperately short of confidence. The tiebreak was so bad, it was some of the worst tennis you will ever see. She looked like some random ball basher who had just hit themselves out and run out of ideas.
Point 1 - Double Fault
Point 2 - Had Cirstea on the run all over the court. Gets a short ball on her forehand, nets it.
Point 3 - Terrible backhand ue off a nothing ball first shot of the rally. Wasn't even trying to do anything with the ball.
Point 4 - Another terrible backhand ue. This time she was changing direction to go down the line, but she was trying to play it with margin to not miss it, but still netted it.
Point 5 - She plays a drop shot first shot of the rally (normally a sign of either supreme confidence or an extreme lack of it), it was bad timing and poorly executed. Obviously not an official unforced error in the stats, but it might as well be.
This is why we should take some of the things she says with a pinch of salt, because it's clear "my confidence is fine" is rubbish, you can see in her body language alone that she isn't a confident player. When you crumble, your technique lets you down in the biggest moments, it's often down to a lack of belief in what you are doing.