The last time Tamira Paszek won a tennis match she celebrated with a creme egg (a very British chocolate confection that lasts but a few, blissful moments on the lips but, sadly, a lifetime around the hips); this time, the impressive Miss P has bigger plans.
This time, the lady from Dornbirn in Austria has plenty to get excited about after battling her way through a three hour, 12 minute marathon, played over two rain-delayed days, to beat Caroline Wozniacki 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-4 to reach the second round.
From two match points down in the second set, she stuck to her guns, went for broke and did for the former world No.1 in a flurry of outrageous winners and a hatful of startling errors. In all, she pasted the lines of smacked the corners 54 times, leaving Wozniacki flatfooted and flapping at thin air, but, then again, 41 times she missed the mark. That is just the way it is with Paszek – when it goes in, it is a screamer and when it flies out, she just grits her teeth and tries again.
That creme egg was gulped down in celebration after winning the title in Eastbourne last week so she was obviously in fine form as she headed for SW19. But, still, taking on the might of Wozniacki on Centre Court, dodging the rain and dealing with the delays – that took some doing.
“I came in with some good rhythm, I won in Eastbourne,” she said. “We both gave it our utmost today but tomorrow I will probably have to play singles and doubles so tonight it’s just a hot bath, some massage, great food and we’ll be fine.”
Clearly, they make ‘em tough in Dornbirn.
They began on Tuesday evening, just four games before the rain started. Coming back on Wednesday, they managed another five games before the clouds started to drip again. This time is was not heavy enough to be described as rain and it was not even wet enough to be called drizzle – this more of a dribble. Spits and spots of wet stuff were landing on the hallowed turf causing much consternation all round.
Official looking people with walkie-talkies surveyed the skies and reported back to base; court coverers were poised like coiled springs ready to drag the tarpaulin across the court but they were kept waiting. Was this going to stop? Was it really raining? Is this a roof moment?
All the while, Paszek and Wozniacki sat at the courtside and waited. A helpful ballgirl unfurled a brolly to shield the former world No.1 from the elements but got carried away with herself and turned the thing inside out. As a gallant ballboy leapt to her rescue and mended the umbrella, so saving his colleague’s blushes, the throng guffawed and gave him a round of applause (they are an easy crowd, this Centre Court bunch).
With that as the warm-up act, Sir Bruce Forsyth turned to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and hit her with his best patter. He was still talking as the roof – now deemed necessary due to the fact that the wet stuff was now officially regarded as rain – closed and had it not been for the fact that Paszek finally won and then left the building, he might be talking yet.
When they got back to work – and Brucie had quietened down – it did seem as if Wozniacki was on her way to the next round. Closing out the opening set, she took the early lead in the second. And then Paszek fought back. She fought and fought and fought. Wozniacki gave it her all, too, but there was nothing she could do to stop the indomitable force that is Tamira Paszek on a grass court.
“It was a good match, good tennis, but that doesn't really help me,” Wozniacki said. “I lost in the first round. Tomorrow no one will remember how great a match it was, they'll just remember who won. It's not a nice feeling. Those are some of the matches that it's really great when you win them, but also really sucks when you lose. Especially after having two match points and not taking them. It wasn't because I played badly; she just went for it and that's it.”
So for now the chocolate will have to wait at least until Paszek has faced Alize Cornet for a place in the third round. For Wozniacki, meanwhile, it is back to the drawing board as she tries to dig her way out of her current slump.