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Much ado about nothing for Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy

The tennis player and the golfer shake off rumors about perceived links between their athletic performances and their romantic relationship.

March 06, 2013|By Diane Pucin
  • Caroline Wozniacki is the eighth-seeded player in the womens draw of the BNP Paribas Open.
Caroline Wozniacki is the eighth-seeded player in the womens draw of the… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)

Caroline Wozniacki knows well the perils of dating a famous athlete.

She has been the girlfriend of golfer Rory McIlroy for more than a year and the spotlight of fame isn't always a plus.

For example last week, when McIlroy quit in the middle of a golf tournament in Florida, and Wozniacki was upset in the first round of a tennis tournament in Malaysia, it was decided by some that it was romantic heartache that caused the corresponding events.

"We've been in the media spotlight so long that I've gotten used to that part of it," Wozniacki said Wednesday. "I don't pay attention to the rumors.

It doesn't affect me, honestly."

Wozniacki is the eighth-seeded player in the women's draw of the BNP Paribas Open.

That sounds like a wonderful number except that as recently as October 2010, Wozniacki was ranked No. 1 in the world and had already been to the finals of the U.S. Open.

The finals of the Open is still her best Grand Slam-level tournament result. And now, at age 22, Wozniacki is considered by some as a cinch to never win a major event.

But when asked Wednesday about what problems have caused her to drop in the rankings, she was quick with her answer.

"I don't think I have a problem," Wozniacki said. "I'm healthy, I'm playing, I have a life."

Earlier in the day, McIlroy had done a news conference in Doral, Fla., where he will next play golf at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. He admitted that he had made a mistake to walk off the course last week. That statement led to a question about the possibility of romantic troubles.

"Everything on that front is great," McIlroy said. "I look forward to seeing [Wozniacki] next week when she gets to Miami.

"I've read what's been written. Just because I have a bad day on the golf course and Caroline loses a match in Malaysia, it doesn't mean we're breaking up. It's sport."

Wozniacki said she was proud of McIlroy's reaction to the criticism that followed his abrupt withdrawal from the Florida tournament.

"He said what he thought," Wozniacki said, "and he put a lid on things."

Victoria Azarenka, the defending women's champion and this year's top-seeded player, also has a well-known friend. She is accompanied at most tournaments by Stefan Kendal Gordy, better known to music fans as Redfoo.

Azarenka said being such close friends with Redfoo "makes it more difficult to go get coffee." And she doesn't have to call him "Redfoo" either. "I call him Stefan," Azarenka said. Stefan smiled. He was in the press room.

Etc.: Svetlana Kuznetsova, who not so long ago (2009) was a French Open winner, is unseeded here and had to play a first-round singles match Monday. Kuznetsova beat Andrea Hlavackova, 6-3, 6-1. ...Twenty-two-year-old qualifier Mallory Burdette, a former Stanford star, beat 38-year-old American Jill Craybas, 6-3, 6-1.

diane.pucin@latimes.com

Twitter: @mepucin

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