Service rhythm wasn't really a problem again today for Caroline (though her 51% 1st serve percentage left something to be desired). Instead, she was defeated by her other old enemy: choking
. She wasted an incredible number of break-point opportunities. She gave away the advantage of an early service break but at 5-4 she had Zahlavova Strycova in all kinds of trouble. The Czech faced at least four set points on her own serve. Caroline failed to convert any of them! She then dumped her own service game but at 5-6 she had BZS at 15-40 and had the perfect chance to take the set to a tiebreak. Somehow she missed all these chances too, and BZS took the set 7-5. At this point I decided to go to the gym, which seemed to me a more productive way to spend my evening rather than staring at a scoreboard in exasperation!
My absence didn't bring about a turn-around in Caro's fortunes. I got back home later to find that she'd lost the 2nd set 6-2. But I see that she still created - and squandered - another three breakpoints against BZS, while saving neither of the two breakpoints she faced herself. Clearly, it was a closer set than the scoreline suggests but Caroline was undone by her inability to take her chances.
The match stats make for extraordinary reading: BZS faced 13 breakpoints
in total and saved 12 of them (92 % success taste), while Caroline faced a mere 5 but managed to defend only 1 of them. What a waste!
What's happened to the fearless, all-conquering Caroline who dismantled the US Fed Cup team earlier this year?