Holder Jelena Ostapenko dumped in Round 1, Alexander Zverev advances in French Open
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Holder Jelena Ostapenko dumped in Round 1, Alexander Zverev advances in French Open

While defending champion Jelena Ostapenko lost her women’s singles first round, Alexander Zverev advanced at the French Open on Sunday.

tennis Updated: May 27, 2018 23:52 IST
Reuters, Paris
Jelena Ostapenko,Alexander Zverev,French Open
Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko reacts during her first round match with Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova at the French Open in Paris on Sunday.(Reuters)

Jelena Ostapenko became only the sixth female Grand Slam champion to lose in the opening round of their title defence on Sunday when she lost to Kateryna Kozlova at the French Open.

The world number five never looked at ease on the Roland Garros main show court, slumping to a 7-5 6-3 defeat to a Ukrainian opponent who had won both the pair’s previous meetings.

Not since Anastasia Myskina lost in the opening round of the 2005 tournament has the French Open lost its women’s champion so early.

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By losing, Ostapenko joins a ignominious group including, as well as Myskina, Steffi Graf, Jennifer Capriati, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Angelique Kerber who all lost as Grand Slam champions on the first run of their defences.

Kozlova, competing with a large, weeping blister on her heel which caused her to take a medical break at the end of the first set, was well worth the victory, playing with power and composure, in contrast to the flustered champion.

Ostapenko’s eyes searched the coach’s box at every opportunity, but could find no answers as she checked out early.

It might appear lower-ranked players are becoming something of an Achilles’ heel to the Latvian - already this year she had lost to two players outside the world’s top 50. Kozlova, ranked 66, makes it an unhappy hat-trick for the 20-year-old.

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Zverev in the pink

Alexander Zverev rocked up at the French Open on Sunday looking like one of the ballboys with his salmon pink shirt but once he started wielding his racket, it was clear he was not there to follow orders as he thrashed Ricardas Berankis 6-1 6-1 6-2.

With the ballboys wearing strikingly similar shirts, the German would not have looked out of place if he had swapped places with one of them and stood to attention at the rear hoardings or crouched down on both knees near the net posts.

But the 21-year-old left Lithuania’s Berankis to do all the scrambling as he fired down 11 aces and 29 winners to wrap up victory in 69 blistering minutes to set up a second-round showdown with either Jiri Vesely or Dusan Lajovic.

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Seeded second at a major for the first time in his career, Zverev is billed to meet 10-times champion Rafael Nadal in the June 10 final.

But having failed to progress beyond the fourth round at any of the slams so far, the man tipped a future Grand Slam champion was not about to read too much into his seeding even though he enjoyed a sizzling build-up to Paris by contesting three claycourt finals and winning two of them.

“I’m the number two seed but it doesn’t mean anything as there are a lot of great players wanting to stop me,” he said.

First Published: May 27, 2018 23:26 IST