Sports Tennis 28 May 2017 French Open: Angeliq ...

French Open: Angelique Kerber in historic loss, tearful Petra Kvitova returns

AFP
Published May 28, 2017, 7:44 pm IST
Updated May 28, 2017, 7:44 pm IST
The earliest exits suffered by a top seed in Paris came in the second round -- Justine Henin in 2004 and Serena Williams in 2014.
Angelique Kerber dropped serve six times on her way to a 6-2, 6-2 defeat to Russia's Ekaterina Makarova. (Photo: AP)
 Angelique Kerber dropped serve six times on her way to a 6-2, 6-2 defeat to Russia's Ekaterina Makarova. (Photo: AP)

Paris: Angelique Kerber became the first top seed to lose in the opening round at Roland Garros on Sunday as tearful Petra Kvitova swept to victory in her first match since surviving a knife attack which almost ended her career.

German world number one Kerber dropped serve six times on her way to a 6-2, 6-2 defeat to Russia's Ekaterina Makarova.

 

Before this year, the earliest exits suffered by a top seed in Paris came in the second round -- Justine Henin in 2004 and Serena Williams in 2014.

"At the end of the match, it was really tough as I knew she wouldn't give it to me -- I had to win it," said Makarova, a former semi-finalist at the Australian and US Opens.

It was the second successive first round exit at Roland Garros for Kerber, the reigning US Open champion -- last year, she fell to unseeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands.

It also continued a miserable spell for the 29-year-old on clay in 2017.

 

She lost her opener in Stuttgart where she was the defending champion, suffered a thigh injury in the third round in Madrid and lost first time out in Rome.

On Sunday, she fell a double break down to trail 5-1 to her Russian opponent who she was facing for the 12th time.

Makarova, now ranked 40 after reaching a career high of eight, was a double break ahead again for 3-0 in the second set.

Four successive breaks of serve followed before Makarova saved seven break points in the crucial eighth game to cause the upset.

Kerber's defeat makes the women's draw even more open with Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka all not playing.

 

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova downed outclassed Julia Boserup of the United States 6-3, 6-2, falling to her knees in celebration in the moment of victory before weeping at the net.

"I'm really glad to have made the decision to play here," said 27-year-old Kvitova, who was seriously hurt when she fought off a knife-wielding burglar at her home in the eastern Czech town of Prostejov in December.

"I won the match today but I knew I had already won," she added in reference to the initial nightmare scenario in which she feared she'd lose the fingers on her left playing hand.

 

Kvitova, the 15th seed and a semi-finalist in Roland Garros in 2012, fired nine aces and 31 winners past Boserup, making her debut at the tournament at the age of 25.

Olympic champion Monica Puig sent veteran Italian Roberta Vinci to her 10th first round loss in 13 visits to Paris, winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

Madison Brengle of the US defeated Germany's Julia Goerges 1-6, 6-3, 13-11 in a tie stretching to almost three hours.

Goerges went down blazing -- she hit 79 winners but 90 unforced errors.

Venus Williams marks her Roland Garros 20th anniversary later Sunday.

 

Three weeks shy of her 37th birthday, the American star, who made her debut in the French capital in 1997, kicks off her latest campaign against China's Wang Qiang.

Williams, seeded 10, has played every year since 1997 with the exception of 2011 and despite her senior citizen status, she is still a contender at the Slams as her run to the Australian Open final in January proved.

Her staggering longevity is illustrated by the fact that her potential second round opponent is compatriot Amanda Anisimova who, at just 15, is the youngest main draw competitor since 2005.

 

When Venus was losing the 2002 Roland Garros final to Serena, Anisimova was just nine months old.

"I'm here as I still have a lot to give. That just wraps it up," said Venus, who has never got beyond the quarter-finals in Paris since her runners-up spot 15 years ago.

The standout match in the men's singles sees Austrian sixth seed Dominic Thiem, a semi-finalist in 2016, take on unpredictable Bernard Tomic of Australia.

Thiem is regarded as a potential champion should world number one Andy Murray, defending champion Novak Djokovic or nine-time champion Rafael Nadal slip up.

 

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