Monday, May 23, 2022

French Open first round--big upsets, mighty German

There are some things you can always count on at the French Open: It will rain, the crowd will be even ruder than the crowds in Australia, London and the United States, Angie Kerber will act (at least for a while) like she's never won a clay tournament, and I will find it hard to do anything but watch the matches at my favorite major.

And of course, there will be upsets early on. The first to go this year was a surprise--yet, maybe not to the degree that people seem to think. It was a surprise because it was 6th seed Ons Jabeur, who has won more clay matches this year than any other player on the tour. Jabeur won Madrid, and was the runner-up in Charleston and Rome. The Tunisian star was the favorite of some to win the title, but she fell to Magda Linette in the opening round. Linette, while ranked number 52 in the world, is no slouch on a clay court, and she was able to get the best of an increasingly rattled Jabeur in three tough sets.

The next to go was 10th seed and former champion Garbine Muguruza, who was shown the exit in the first round by giant-slayer Kaia Kanepi. And while it's true that any giant can be taken out by Kanepi on a given day, the Spanish star may have been especially vulnerable. Muguruza's inconsistency and inability to close matches are no longer "new" problems; Muguruza just isn't herself anymore.

Another first-round upset--this one especially sad--was that of 2nd seed and defending champion Barbora Krejcikova. The Czech star has been out for a several months with an elbow injury, and no one who pays attention to the tour expected her to do that well--she has hardly played any matches in a while. Still, I hoped that she'd at least be able to go for a few rounds. But French teenager Diane Parry had other plans; she defeated Krejcikova 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, and thus marked her first victory over a top 10 player (and her first over a top 50 player, for that matter). 

Krejcikova said, after the match, that she was able to play pain-free, but that she "hit the wall" physically after going for so long without playing matches.

Also going out in the first round were Petra Martic, former world number 1 Naomi Osaka, Dayana Yastremska, 25th seed Liudmila Samsonova, Anett Kontaveit, and last year's junior champion, Linda Noskova, who took Emma Raducanu to three sets. 

And then there was this:

I don't know which is stronger--the legs or the fight--but Angie Kerber remains a force of nature. This match was stunning, and peak Kerber--as always--left me breathless.

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