Why female tennis players, underwear and golfing boyfriends don’t mix

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Adam Scott celebrates his 2013 Master's victory. (Image: AFP)

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Ever wondered why Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic have been struggling with their form in recent months? Their well-documented relationships with golfing boyfriends Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott could be to blame.

Wozniacki and McIlroy are undoubtedly one of sport’s most famous couples, but it seems that nowadays they are making headlines for their relationship rather than their professional careers.

Ivanovic and Scott also used to be an item, but they are now separated as both parties try to get their careers back on track. During their relationship, both players also suffered a painful decline in their form.

Wozniacki and McIlroy started dating back in August 2011, but just like Ivanovic before her, saw that period coincide with a major slump in form which has not only seen her lose her world number one ranking, but also fail to make an impression over the last 18 months.

McIlroy was first spotted in Wozniacki’s player’s box during the US Open that year, when she lost to Serena Williams in the semi-finals.

The first signs of a Wozniacki decline came at last year’s Australian Open, when, as the top seed, she lost in the quarter-finals to defending champion Kim Clijsters in straight sets.

It was after this tournament that Wozniacki would lose her world number one ranking (and never get it back) to Victoria Azarenka, who went on to win the tournament.

Two months later, as the defending champion at Indian Wells, Wozniacki was thrashed by Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round. That defeat sent her crashing out of the top four, seemingly for good.

What would follow is an ongoing form slump which has seen her drop to number 10 in the world and not reach the quarter-finals or better at six successive Grand Slam tournaments (in fact, her only fourth round appearance in that streak was at this year’s Australian Open, when she lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets).

At Wimbledon last year, Wozniacki crashed out in the first round to Austria’s Tamira Paszek, despite holding match point late in the match. Then, at the US Open, Wozniacki made another early exit, being thrashed by little-known Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu in the first round.

Wozniacki would salvage her season by winning two titles late in the year, including at the Kremlin Cup when she edged out Samantha Stosur in three sets.

But nevertheless, 2012 was a massive disappointment for the woman who started the year as world number one, but ended it just inside the top 10.

This year continues to be another disappointing one for Wozniacki.

She started the season with early exits in Brisbane, Sydney and the Australian Open, but was able to reach the championship match at Indian Wells for a third time in four years, losing to Maria Sharapova.

However, her performances at major tournaments continue to decline – she exited in the second rounds of both the French Open and Wimbledon, and now finds herself ranked number 10, 18 months after losing the top ranking in women’s tennis.

While I’m not supposed to know what happens between Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy, the continuing relationship between them could prove to be the catalyst to the Dane’s recent poor performances throughout the last 18 months.

Additionally, she also launched her new underwear line, called ‘This is Me’, late last year.

But Wozniacki isn’t going at it all alone.

Ana Ivanovic started dating Australian golfer Adam Scott in 2009, but that year would see the Serb crash out of the top five by year’s end, finishing outside the top 20 and losing her French Open title defence.

Her early success and glamorous image was what made her a target amongst her male fans, and it was Scott who was impressed the most.

Ivanovic was first spotted with Scott after Wimbledon in 2009, where the Serb was forced to retire in the fourth round after aggravating a thigh injury in her match against Venus Williams.

They were also spotted scouting New York City together later that year, after the Serb exited in the first round of the US Open.

That was the beginning of a very long and never-ending period of poor form which continues today, even though both parties are well and truly separated.

Many were quick to blame Ivanovic’s relationship with Adam Scott for her poor form – plus, she also came under fire for posing for the world-famous Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in a bikini (a month after these photos were published, Ivanovic was no longer a top 50 player) in early 2010.

Following Wimbledon that year, where she lost in the first round, Ivanovic dropped to number 65 in the world, her lowest ranking since March 2005. This is what prompted her to briefly end her relationship with Adam Scott.

The end of her relationship with Scott immediately saw somewhat of a resurgence from the former world number one, as she would win 21 of her next 27 matches, pick up two titles in her best winning patch since 2008 and finish the season inside the top 20, after more than twelve months outside it.

But even so, poor results and injury started to creep back into her game, as she failed to build on her strong finish to 2010.

Injuries ruined her Australian and French Open campaigns, where she was a finalist at both tournaments just three years earlier. She lost in the first round at both tournaments.

Wimbledon didn’t see an improvement, either, as she exited in the third round with the draw wide open (her would-be respective third and fourth round opponents, Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na, both crashed out in the second round).

Not even another strong finish to 2011 would be enough, as she finished yet another season outside the top 20. Around this time, Ivanovic re-united with Adam Scott, but after six months they separated for good, with both parties wanting to focus on producing consistent results.

Their split appeared to pay dividends, as Ivanovic reached the quarter-finals at last year’s US Open and reached her highest world ranking since 2009, while Scott came so close to winning the British Masters before throwing it all away in the last few holes, before finally tasting his first Masters success at the US Open in April this year.

Perhaps Caroline Wozniacki should take Ana Ivanovic’s lead and split from Rory McIlroy for the sake of getting her ailing career back on track. Or else, it could get worse.

The Dane’s terrible form over the last 18 months vindicates the heading of this article – that female tennis players, underwear and a golfing boyfriend do not mix.

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