Kerber crashes out in Paris
Originally published on 28/05/17 00:00
It was a controlled and disciplined display from the Russian, however her German opponent was out-of-sorts once again. Kerber has now earned the unwanted distinction of becoming the first women’s top seed to lose in the opening round of Roland Garros in the Open era.
It has been a season to forget for the two-time Grand Slam champion and depending on results in Paris, she could lose her world No.1 ranking to either Simona Halep or Karolina Pliskova.
"For the first time in nine years at Roland Garros, I played my singles on Philippe Chatrier,” laughed Makarova. “She's a great player, I knew that she wasn't going to miss it, and that I had to win it."
“I think she played a good match,” admitted a downcast Kerber. “It was a tough first round and I had a few chances in the first set and also in the second set, but I didn’t make it and I think that was the key for the match.
“I now have a little bit more time to think about what I will do in the next few weeks and how I will prepare for the grass season. Of course I’m disappointed that the clay-court season is over, but it was not so good, and maybe it’s good that it’s over for me.”
Petra Kvitova’s eagerly-anticipated return after six months out with a serious left hand injury went without a hitch. The 27-year-old showed no sign of nerves or rust as she powered past Julia Boserup 6-3 6-2.
It was an emotional success for the former Wimbledon champion and she was roared on by her support box, who all adorned T-shirts with the words ‘Courage, belief and pojd [come on]’ splashed across the front.
"It's a pleasure to be here,” said Kvitova. “I am really glad we made this decision. Courage and belief is what we needed. With the heart, everything is possible. It doesn’t matter how I played. I won, and I had won already before, so I am happy for that.”
Olympic champion Monica Puig claimed the first scalp of the tournament. The Puerto Rican defeated the 31st seed, Roberta Vinci 6-3 3-6 6-2 to earn a shot at Jelena Ostapenko.
There was a winning start for the 2009 champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, who ousted Christina McHale 7-5 6-4. Another veteran, Venus Williams, making her 20th appearance at Roland Garros – a record for a female player – marked the occasion with a hard-fought 6-4 7-6(3) win over Wang Qiang.
The 36-year-old, who raised her level in the latter stages said: “She [Wang] played some great tennis. I’ve never played her before but I could definitely feel the support from the crowd so that felt amazing. I live in Florida, so I had a little preparation for the [hot] conditions.”