Angelique Kerber’s dismal run and overall discomfort on clay was on full display on court Philippe-Chartrier when she crashed out in the opening round of the French Open to unseeded Ekaterina Makarova. Always expected to be a tough match, Makarova saved 14 of 16 break points she faced and held on to win the opening round 6-2, 6-2 in an hour and 22 minutes. In the process Kerber has become the first top seed in Open Era to crash out in the first round of the French Open.
In her career, Kerber had bowed out in the opening round of the French Open four times and on Sunday that tally reached five. In comparison, she has lost in the first round of Australian Open and Wimbledon on three instances each. In 2016, she won the Australian Open and US Open while reaching the final of Wimbledon. Recently she climbed to top of the rankings in Serena Williams’ absence but has looked a pale shadow of the American’s dominant self. This year her record reads 19-13 and she’s lost four of her last six matches.
Kerber who competed against Serena’s power hitting with her counter attacking game looked out of sorts and went out tamely despite bringing up plenty of break point chances. In the first set, she had only four winners and made 12 unforced errors. Her first chance to break arrived in the last game but Makarova held on.
The Russian who has a best of fourth round at the French Open then took a 3-0 lead in the second set before Kerber put in a bit of a fight. But despite the German’s one-off winners, it wasn’t consistent enough to prolong the inevitable and see herself out of the tournament in the first week yet another time.
“It was really tough. She’s a No. 1 and she’s a great player and I knew that I have to win it; she’s not going to miss it,” Makarova said. “I was also fighting with my emotion.”