Tuesday 26 March 2019

Ninth seed Williams crashes out of French Open at first hurdle

Bowed Out: Williams. Photo: Reuters/Christian Hartmann
Bowed Out: Williams. Photo: Reuters/Christian Hartmann

Gerard Hughes

Defending champion Jelena Ostapenko and seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams were sent crashing out of the French Open in the opening round yesterday.

Ninth seed Williams, runner-up in Paris in 2002, was beaten 6-4, 7-5 by Wang Qiang of China on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Wang, ranked 85 in the world, had lost to Williams in the first round in Paris last year and also at Wimbledon a few weeks later.

But she gained revenge in spectacular style with a first victory over the 37-year-old for the biggest win of her career.

"I think she just played well," said Williams. "I mean, all the times we've played, she's played great. I think her game just got better and better during the match."

Williams was the first big name to tumble out of this year's tournament and she was joined by Latvian fifth seed Ostapenko after a 7-5, 6-3 defeat to Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova.

Great Britain's Johanna Konta also crashed out 6-4, 6-3 to Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, a player who is ranked 71 places below her.

Fourth seed Elina Svitolina recovered from 5-1 down, saving a set point, to blow away Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia.

The Ukrainian won eight games in a row - frustrated Tomljanovic's racket was an early Roland Garros casualty - on her way to a 7-5, 6-3 victory.

Meanwhile, controversial Australian Nick Kyrgios has withdrawn from the event through injury.

The fiery 23-year-old was seeded 21st at Roland Garros and was due to play fellow Australian Bernard Tomic in the first round.

However, Kyrgios has not played a singles match since April due to an elbow injury and says he is not fit enough to return yet.

"Having consulted with my team and medical experts it is deemed too risky for me to step out and potentially play five sets on clay, especially as I have not played a singles match in nearly two months," he wrote on Twitter.

Elsewhere yesterday, Grigor Dimitrov got his Open bid off to a solid start with a straight-sets win over Egypt's Mohamed Safwat, who looked out of his depth in the first set but eventually found his feet, although he could not stop Bulgarian Dimitrov running out a 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7/1) winner.

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