French Open | Kvitova’s heartwarming return
The main focus of attention on the first Sunday of the French Open, the second grand slam of the season, was firmly fixed on the welcome return of the popular Czech player, Petra Kvitova and whether the current world No1 Angelique Kerber, could bring to a halt her recent poor run on clay courts.
I think it doesn’t really matter how I played, but I won Petra Kvitova
Kvitova was given the honour of opening proceedings on Court Philippe Chatrier and while the crowd was sparse, she received a warm welcome as she stepped on court to face the American Julia Boserup, ranked 85.
The Czech was making her first appearance on a match court since she suffered that horrific knife attack when arriving back in her apartment and discovering a burglary in progress. The injury she received to her racket hand required four hours of surgery and months of intensive physio to recover sufficiently to be able to use her hand.
Herd ecision to play at Roland Garros was a surprise but seeded 15, she produced some powerful ground strokes which belie her pre-match comment of lacking strength and power! The only area where that weakness was evident was in her serve which proved erratic with plenty of double faults.
However she was strong enough to deliver a 6-3 67-2 defeat over her American opponent requiring just 73-minutes to go through to round two where she faces another American Bethanie Mattek-Sands who defeated Evgeniya Rodina 7-5 6-2.
“I think it doesn’t really matter how I played, but I won,” Kvitova with tears welling in her eyes, commented after her emotional and successful return.
That match was followed by Kerber taking on Ekaterina Makarova and as many pundits expected, the Russian proved too much for the German world No1.
As the top seed, Kerber suffered a shock defeat to become the first No1 seed to be unceremoniously dispatched in the history of the French Open! She lost 6-2 6-2 to a player ranked 40 but while a shocking result in terms of the draw, it wasn’t unexpected as she dropped her serve six times and made 25 unforced errors in a match that lasted 82-minutes.
“If you are losing, it’s always tough to [enjoy] the game,” Kerber said following what is another disappointing result for her. “I mean, I know in the last years I had always up and downs and right now, of course, I’m down.”
The two time grand slam champion added: “This year, I mean, the expectations are much bigger, especially in the big tournaments and the Grand Slams. And the expectations are also, from me, really big, of course, because I know what I can do, what I did last year,” Kerber said. “But right now, I think that I have to find myself again.”
Makarova, when told she had made history by dispatching the top seed in the opening round for the first time, commented: “Well that’s unbelievable.”
With Serena Williams missing due to her pregnancy and Maria Sharapova denied an entry following her drug ban, the women’s draw is now possible more open than ever following the German’s early dismissal!
Other significant results include Venus Williams, making her 20th appearance at the French Open, securing a second round place with a 6-4 7-(3) victory over Q Wang of China and the current Olympic champion from Puerto Rico, Monica Puig, eliminating the 1015 US Open runner-up from Italy, Roberta Vinci 6-3 3-6 6-2.