Paris | Sakkari and Haddad Maia toppled, but Svitolina prevails

Two high seeds were toppled later on Monday, when Varvara Gracheva pulled off the biggest upset of the French Open by beating Maria Sakkari, and Elisabetta Cocciaretto taking down Beatriz Haddad Maia, both  in 3 sets, while Elina Svitolina prevailed over Karolina Pliskova, and Bianca Andreescu returned from injury to out-duel Sara Sorribes Tormo.

I know there were some points in the match where I was a little bit off. She [Sara Sorribes Tormo] plays unconventionally. She likes to loop it, but it's effective. I am putting in the work. [After] frickin' four months, I would hope that I'd see some improvement on the court. I'm happy. I don't want to focus on anything negative. Bianca Andreescu

Gracheva, a Moscow-born Frenchwoman, is ranked No 88, and came from a set down to defeat Sakkari, the No 6 seed from Greece, 3-6 6-4 6-3, in the 1st-round on Monday evening, and then, closing out a dramatic Day 2 in Paris, Italy’s 51st-ranked Cocciaretto knocked out 2023 semi-finalist and 13th seed Haddad Maia of Brazil, winning 3-6 6-4 6-1.

Sakkari is the first Top 10 seed to topple over the first 2 days at Roland Garros, against a player she has beaten twice without loss of a set, but on this occasion she was outplayed after winning the first set.

23-year-old Gracheva, who became a French citizen in 2023, had the crowd’s support on Court Simonne-Mathieu, and gave her adopted nation a big reason to cheer after battling back to earn the 4th Top 10 win of her career, and her first of the season.

Gracheva reached a career-high ranking at 39 in January, but then got mired in a middling season when she struck a 7-match losing streak over the spring hard-court season.

She finally snapped that run on the green clay at Charleston.

Sakkari broke Gracheva 3 times in the first set and looked to be on her way to avoiding a 4th 1st-round exit at a Grand Slam in her last 5 appearances, but despite her continued return pressure on Gracheva, the Greek managed to break just once for the remainder of the match.

In total, Sakkari was 4 for 15 on break-point opportunities, while Gracheva was an efficient 5 out of 6.

After breaking for a 3-1 lead in the second, Gracheva held off 5 break points in the next game to consolidate her lead, before breaking again Sakkari again to close out the set and force a third, which she rode out with a perfect final frame.

In the 2nd-round, Gracheva will face America’s Bernarda Pera, who dropped just 2 games to Japan’s Nao Hibino, while Cocciaretto will face Spain’s Cristina Bucsa.

Elina Svitolina needed 3 sets to get past former World No 1 Karolina Pliskova on Monday evening in Paris

© Dan Istitene/Getty Images

In a 1st-round showdown between former Top 3 players, Elina Svitolina, the 15th seed from Ukraine, overcame Czech Karolina Pliskova, 3-6 6-4 6-2 on Court Suzanne Lenglen on Monday.

It took Svitolina an hour and 56 minutes to pull off the come-from-behind win and reach the 2nd-round in Paris once more.

It was barely over a year ago when Svitolina’s come-back from maternity leave took flight.

After giving birth to daughter Skai in October 2022, she returned to the tour in April 2023, and quickly reclaimed elite form, winning the Strasbourg title, then reaching the Roland Garros quartefinals one week later.

Svitolina has posted quarter-final finishes at Roland Garros on 4 occasions, dating back to her first Grand Slam quarter-final in 2015.

The 29-year old, and 32-year-old Pliskova have both made their mark as two of the Hologic WTA Tour’s top players over the last decade.

Pliskova reached World No 1 in 2016 and has made 2 Grand Slam finals, while Svitolina reached a career-high of No 3 as early as 2017, and they have won an identical 17 WTA singles titles apiece.

This was their 10th career showdown, Pliskova having won their first 5 meetings between 2011 and 2017, but Svitolina reeled off victories in their next 4 matches.

On this occasion, iSvitolina took control down the stretch, beating Pliskova for the 5th straight time and levelling their head-to-head at 5-5.

Pliskova, who started the year strongly and won 11 straight matches during a 15-day span in February, was the dominant force in the opening set after rebounding from an early break down.

The Czech won 11 out of 18 points returning Svitolina’s first serve in that set.

The Ukrainian, though, opened up the court with well-placed groundstrokes in the second, and she earned triple set point with a backhand winner at 5-4, and broke Pliskova to love to tie up proceedings, matching big-hitting Pliskova in winners with 10 apiece in the set.

In the decider, another love break determined the fate of the match, when, at 3-2, 0-40, Svitolina placed one more stellar crosscourt backhand directly towards Pliskova’s feet, which the Czech could not handle, and the Ukrainian did not drop another game.

Next up, Svitolina, who is married to French ATP player Gael Monfils, will face one of her husband’s compatriots in the 2nd round., Diane Parry, who beat another Frenchwoman, Fiona Ferro, 3-6 6-3 6-3.

Their only prior meeting came just last week in Strasbourg, where Svitolina beat Parry, 6-3 6-4.

Bianca Andreescu beat Sara Sorribes Tormo in her first match back after a 10-month injury break

© Clive Mason/Getty Images

Former World No 4 Bianca Andreescu from Canada posted her first victory since 2023 Wimbledon on Monday after defeating Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo, 7-5 6-1 in the 1st round, her first match in nearly 10 months after being sidelined by a stress fracture in her back.

There was always going to be some level of rust for Andreescu, and she will lament some of her finishing in the short court, particularly in the first set, but the Canadian’s problem-solving remains top-notch.

Even though she let her lead slip in the first set, she never let her frustrations overwhelm her.

“I know there were some points in the match where I was a little bit off,” Andreescu said. “She plays unconventionally. She likes to loop it, but it’s effective.

“I am putting in the work,’ Andreescu added. “[After] frickin’ four months, I would hope that I’d see some improvement on the court. I’m happy. I don’t want to focus on anything negative.”

Linda Noskova got past Harriet Dart in 2 tight sets in the 1st-round at Roland Garros

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Britain’s Harriet Dart lost to Linda Noskova, the 27th seed from Czech Republic, 7-6(3) 6-4, while Katie Boulter, the 26th seed, will face Spain’s Paula Badosa on Tuesday.

The 1st-round is now completed for the top half of the draw, which saw 4 seeds take opening-round losses: Haddad Maia, No 16 Ekaterina Alexandrova from Russia, Czech No 24 Barbora Krejcikova and No 29 Veronika Kudermetova, also from Russia.

Elisabetta Cocciaretto upset No 13 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia in 3 sets on Monday

© Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images



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