Top Seed Angelique Kerber out in Opening Round of French Open

By Jane Voigt

May 28, 2017 — Top seed and world number-one Angelique Kerber is out of the French Open. It’s the first time in the history of this major that the top seed has lost in her opening round. The German was defeated by ‘dangerous floater’ Ekaterina Makarova, 6-2, 6-2. 

“I’m enjoying tennis, but losing is never good,” Kerber said, Ubitennis posted on Twitter.

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Angelique Kerber made history in Paris today. But not the kind that makes her happy. She lost in her opening round, becoming the first woman in the  Open Era to lose that early at the French Open.
Photo credit Karla Kinne tennisclix.com.

Kerber has not won a tournament this year, after rising to number one in 2016 when she won The Australian Open and the U.S. Open. She also finished as runner-up at Wimbledon, losing to Serena Williams. 

“Today I was so calm with myself and quiet inside,” Makarova said, the WTA_insider tweeted. “I had just a ball and me and the place where to play and nothing else.”

But that breaking news didn’t distract from several feel-good stories from opening day. 

Petra Kvitova, two-time Wimbledon champion, decided days ago to make it a go in Paris, after being out for six months. She had been stabbed in her left hand — the one she holds her racquet with — as she defended herself against a burglar. Today, she put aside that trauma and defeated American Julia Boserup, 6-2, 6-2.

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Petra Kvitova at 2016 Roland Garros. She lost to eventual quarterfinalist Shelby Rogers.
Photo credit Leslie Billman tennisclix.com

“I think it doesn’t really matter how I played, but I won,” Kvitova said, the AP reported. “I won already before.” 

Kvitova, like Makarova against Kerber, played well within herself. She showed no outward signs of nerves, as she walked on court. However, she did bow her head slightly after the last ball was struck, as tears began to form. 

“I stayed positive,” Kvitova told Tennis Channel, after the win. “I did everything I could and I’m happy with the results.”

Yet, her presence in Paris was an emotional one for the Czech. “Im enjoying the moment and I’m alive,” she added. 

Immediately following her win over 86th-ranked Boserup, Kvitova addressed her player box. “Thank you for everything you helped me through [in] this difficult time.” (AP) Her coach, Jiri Vanek, plus other members of her team wore Nike t-shirts that read, “Courage Belief Poid.” Poid is a Czech word, its closest meaning being ‘come one.’ The ‘o’ on the shirt had been replaced with a heart. Kvitova frequently screams ‘poid’ after winning points.

To add to her comeback story, Kvitova’s section of the draw got a bit easier, due to Kerber’s loss. Plus, the number-31 seed Roberta Vinci lost today in that same portion to Olympic champion, Monica Puig. That means 2011 Roland Garros finalist Samantha Stosur is the only other seed Kvitova could face.

Australian star Samantha Stosur. Photo credit Leslie Billman tennisclix.com.

Predicting end runs at any tournament just because the first round showed promise is dangerous and usually wrong. However, with Venus Williams (No. 10) through her first-round, but far away from Kvitova on the same side of the draw, two feel-good players march on in Paris. Neither woman has won Roland Garros, but neither can be brushed aside as a possible player to make week two. Venus was runner-up in 2002. Kvitova has advanced to the fourth round three times: 2008, 2011, and 2015. 

Thirty-five-year-old Tommy Robredo, former No. 5 in the world and currently ranked No. 274, added to today's cheerful feelings for those players recently injured or, in the case of Venus, participating in her 20th Roland Garros. The Spaniard, who had been off court for six months has only won five matches this year. However today he came from behind to defeat Daniel Evans, ranked number 55, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1. Next up is Grigor Dimitrov who has a losing record with Robredo, 1-3. 

Robredo, by the way, is a five-time quarterfinalist in Paris. Dimitrov won today, marking the first time since 2013 that he’s made it past the first round. The Bulgarian, though, is hot this year and is seeded number 11 in Paris. They won’t play until Wednesday or Thursday, if the weather holds. 

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013