No.1 Kerber crashes out in first round
World No.1 and top seed Angelique Kerber was shown the door by dangerous Russian Ekaterina Makarova in the opening round at Roland-Garros on Sunday.
Ekaterina Makarova hailed a “special” victory after toppling No.1 seed Angelique Kerber in Paris.
Kerber became the first female top seed in Roland-Garros professional-era history to fall in the opening round, following a 6-2, 6-2 defeat on the Philippe-Chatrier Court.
The world No.1, who also lost in the opening round last year, continued her turbulent form in 2017, while Makarova flourished with punchy groundstrokes to nullify Kerber’s weapons with her own power in a ruthless display.
The Russian, a former world No.8, has proved a problematic opponent for Kerber in the past.
“I'm so happy. It was quite a tough first round,” stated Makarova, who held a 4-7 head-to-head record against the German ahead of the contest. “We have played a lot of matches in the past with plenty of tight moments.
“It's always tough to play against Angelique, and especially when she's No.1. It's a totally different opponent, so I'm very happy that I could control emotions and my good tennis today.”
Toe-tapping returns launched onto the baseline enabled Makarova to claim an instant break. With Kerber off the boil, Makarova was tuned in and sauntered through the opening set.
That lead rapidly extended to 3-0 in the second set before Kerber sparked into life with a trademark forehand passing shot on the run to reduce the deficit. Unfortunately for the world No.1, it was a rare glimpse of her all-court prowess.
Makarova served for the match at 5-2; Kerber accumulated seven break points but each one was dismissed to clinch the 28-year-old a maiden victory over a top-ranked player.
“Of course it's a special day and a special moment with lots of different emotions,” added Makarova, who reached the fourth round in 2015. “I actually never played my singles on Philippe-Chatrier during nine years of playing here in the main draw. I was playing all the time on Lenglen when I was going far into the draw, so today was a special day for me.”
The world No.40 continues to save her best moments and victories in the majors. “I think I just like the big tournaments events like World Cups or Olympics games. In tennis we have a Grand Slam, and such a big tournament, different atmosphere, different emotions on the stadiums every day," reflected Makarova.
“I actually never played my singles on Philippe-Chatrier during nine years of playing here in the main draw ... so today was a special day for me.”
“I'm kind of different also on these tournaments. I don't know why, I'm fighting, I'm kind of angry, and I want to win. Doesn't matter what's happening, or which draw I have.”
Meanwhile Kerber endured a torrid clay-court season - with early exits in all of her events - to remain without a title in 2017. The German is eager to get back to the drawing board.
“Last year it was a completely different year, the pressure is always there. This year, the expectations are much bigger, especially in the big tournaments and the Grand Slams. And the expectations are also really big from me, because I know what I can do, what I did last year,” Kerber said.
“But right now I think that I have to find myself again and just try to forget the clay court season as soon as possible and then reset and start from the grass courts again."