The opening day of the French Open has thrown up a series of unexpected results which saw the dismissal of Venus Wlliams, the defending champion Jelena Ostapenko and the late withdrawal of Nick Kyrgios.
In the meantime, Alexander Zverev, Kei Nshikori, Grigor Dmitrov and the home favourites, Gael Monfils and Lucas Pouille, all successfully negotiated their way into the second round as have Sloane Stephens, Elina Svitolina and Anett Kontaveit in the women’s draw.
I had this unbelievable pressure. I felt that I'm not myself Jelena Ostapenko
But Ostapenko’s early demise following her blistering run last year, is a great disappointment to her fans and the game. The game she had deployed to win last year wasn’t as effective or controlled as she made 48 unforced errors against 22 winners and dropped her serve seven times to bow out to the 67th-ranked Kateryna Kozlova of the Ukraine 7-5 6-3.
It was a similar scenario with Venus William’s match, the veteran seven-time major title holder, seeded nine, made 21 more unforced errors than her opponent a she crashed out 6-4 7-5 to the 85th ranked Wanh Qiang from China, who for the first time in her career, has now lost back to back opening matches at grand slam level.
Ostapenko, seeded five, admitted she had experienced unbelievable pressure as she became only the second defending champion to lose in the opening round at Roland Garros the following year following Anastasia Myskina back in 2005. She is also now the sixth to have de so at any of the grand slam events.
“Terrible day at the office today for me. I mean, in general, I played maybe, like, 20 percent of what I can play. Made like 50 unforced errors and so many double-faults. Like, couldn’t serve today,” the Latvian said. “I had this unbelievable pressure. I felt that I’m not myself.”
The 66th ranked Kozlova, who now hasn’t lost to Ostapenko in three meetings, arrived in Paris having played just one match on clay at Nuremberg last week, which she lost having not competed since February because of a right knee injury. In addition she need treatment for blister problems during the second set.
“I really didn´t expect anything from the match. Basically, I have hardly played for two and a half months but I wanted to show what I can do,” she said. “One of the blisters was worse than the others, it was very bloody. But when you play a match, you try not to think about the pain.”
In other action the 2012 runner-up Sara Errani lost to 32nd-seeded Alize Cornet of France 2-6 6-2 6-3 while the 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone was beaten by Viktoria Kuzmova 7-6(2) 7-6(2).
All the seeded scheduled men won, including No.2 Alexander Zverev and No.4 Grigor Dimitrov, who eliminated 182nd ranked Mohamed Safwat, 6-1 6-4 7-6(1), the seventh “lucky loser” to make it into the draw and the first man from Egypt to play in a Grand Slam tournament in 22 years. Safwat replaced Viktor Troicki who withdrew with a back injury.
Zverev got his French Open title bid off to the perfect start with an extremely comfortable 6-1 6-1 6-2, 70-minute demolition of Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis.
The 21-year-old confirmed with his win why he is considered second favourite behind Rafa Nadal for this year’s crown.
“I have won two tournaments, made the finals in Rome; again, losing to Rafa in a close match. I feel good, and today was a good start to the tournament, and I´m happy the way it´s going so far,” the confident German said.
Meanwhile the intriguing match between the two Australian ‘bad boys’ is not to be as Nick Kyrgios withdrew from his opening round meeting with Bernard Tomic, who qualified, to give himself more time to recover from an elbow injury.
“After consulting with my team and with the doctors, it was determined that it is too risky for me to play potentially five sets on clay, especially not having played a singles match from almost two months. The good news is that I finally have no pain. I cannot wait to get back into action in singles, in Stuttgart “.