On the first day of the French Open, Tunisian Ons Jabeur and former champion Garbine Muguruza were among the early casualties.
Jabeur, seen as one of the major threats to world No. 1 Iga Swiatek at the clay-court Grand Slam, arrived in Paris with a career-high ranking and a tour-leading 17 wins on the surface but was defeated by Poland’s Magda Linette 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-5.
When Jabeur made a solid start on Court Philippe Chatrier under murky skies, it appeared that she would have an easy outing against Linette after her win in Madrid and runner-up results in Rome and Charleston.
Linette, who was ranked 56th before the start of the second major of the year, suffered an early break of serve before cruising through the first set in 37 minutes.
Linette, 30, had only beaten Jabeur once before in their four encounters in 2013, but she rallied in the second set, saving four break points to square the match in the tiebreak.
Jabeur’s performance dropped as rain fell on the main show court, and as her unforced errors increased, she expressed her frustration by kicking balls away after losing points.
Linette, who lost in the third round to Jabeur last year, led 4-2 in the third set but saw her lead slip away when Jabeur broke her serve back to stay alive.
However, the Pole sealed the victory after the Tunisian blew a 40-0 advantage in the 12th game, finding the net on match point to lose the set for the second time.
“I had so many tough matches with Ons and last year here I lost to her in the third round so I knew how difficult it’s going to be,” said Linette.
“She was playing so well all this time. I knew I have to be focused and play every single point and try to make her uncomfortable. I am happy that I just managed to fight for every single point.”
Linette’s next role will be either Italian Martina Trevisan or British Harriet Dart.
Muguruza’s first-round exit is his second in a row
Muguruza maintained her downward trend with a 2-6 6-3 6-4 loss to Kanepi.
Muguruza, who won the Suzanne Lenglen Cup in 2016 and reached the Roland Garros semi-finals the following year, was in cruise control in the first set before Kanepi clawed her way back into the match and sealed a brilliant victory.
The Spaniard ended last year on a strong note, winning the WTA finals, but he has had a terrible 2022, winning only one in a row.
“It is very hard, in the end. You have nothing guaranteed. The fact that you finished the year, the previous year well doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to start the year playing at the same level,” Muguruza said.
“You’ve got to work and you’ve got to fight for it. We all know that every year is different and so far just working through it.
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