Angelique Kerber became the first women's top seed in history to lose in the opening round of the French Open when she fell to two-time Grand Slam semifinalist Ekaterina Makarova, 6-2, 6-2, on Sunday. Her absence will allow Karolina Pliskova or Simona Halep to possibly eclipse her No. 1 ranking by fortnight’s end.
No.1 Ranking Watch:— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) May 28, 2017
Kerber retains No.1 ranking after #RG17 unless:
- Karolina Pliksova makes the final or
- Simona Halep wins the title.
It's just the fifth time that a women’s top seed has fallen in the first round of a major during the Open Era. Was it the most shocking loss?
1979 Australian Open
Mary Sawyer def. Virginia Ruzici, 0-6, 6-2, 6-4
#2 Halep out. 1st time women's Top 2 seed lost 1st round here since '79 (1) Virginia Ruzici lost to Mary Sawyer. Ruzici is Halep's manager.— Chris McKendry (@ChrisMcKendry) January 19, 2016
It’s ironic that more than 38 years after Virginia Ruzici became the first top seed at a major to lose in the opening round, Kerber doing the same allowed the Romanian manager’s client, Halep, a slim opportunity at earning the No. 1 ranking.
Ruzici, who won her only Grand Slam at the French Open earlier that year (back then, the Australian Open was played at the end of the year), fell after bageling her opponent in the opening set. Sawyer, who only played three major main draws during her career, ended up making the semifinals in the 32-player draw.
Lori McNeil def. Steffi Graf, 7-5, 7-6(5)
A 22-time Grand Slam champion, Steffi Graf lost a total of two completed opening round matches at majors throughout the course of her entire career. The first was as a 15-year-old, and the other was this shocking upset against McNeil.
It is safe to say that of the five matches on this list, Graf’s defeat was the biggest upset. The German reached at least the quarterfinals of every Grand Slam she entered between the 1985 and 1996 US Opens except this match against McNeil, who lost in the semifinals.
"It doesn't hurt to lose my crown,” said Graf, who was the three-time defending champion. “It hurts to lose.”
Jelena Dokic def. Martina Hingis, 6-2, 6-0
Jelena Dokic was probably one of the best world No. 129’s to ever compete in a Grand Slam main draw when the qualifier stepped on court at Wimbledon in 1999. But nobody could have expected that the former junior world No. 1 and eventual world No. 4 would blitz Hingis in 55 minutes.
''I guess I still can't believe I've beaten her,” a 16-year-old Dokic said.
Amazingly enough, Hingis lost eight 6-0 sets as the No. 1 player in the world. Seven of them were in three setters, with half of the matches eventually going in her favor. But this match never got on track, as the young talent dominated the Swiss just months after losing to her in straight sets at the Australian Open.
Virginia Ruano Pascual def. Martina Hingis, 6-4, 6-2
June 25, 2001: For 2nd time in 3 years, Martina Hingis loses in #Wimbledon first round, loses as No. 1 seed to #83 Virginia Ruano Pascual— This Day In Tennis (@ThisDayInTennis) June 25, 2014
Who would have thought after Hingis’ shocking exit in 1999 that she’d be leaving the grass courts prematurely once again just a couple of years later?
Ruano Pascual was better known for her doubles (she reached No. 1 in the world) skills than her singles play. But the Spaniard, who had won a total of seven games in her two previous meetings against Hingis, found a way to come out on top at Wimbledon.
The No. 83-ranked player in the world advanced as Hingis exited, citing issues with tendinitis, according to the New York Times.
''It seems like I do really well here or I lose in the first round here,'' Hingis said. ''I didn't know if I was going to come here at all. I tried. I did everything I could. It came out this way.''
2017 French Open
Ekaterina Makarova def. Angelique Kerber, 6-2, 6-2
Active Players - Most Top 10 Wins at Grand Slams— Kevin Fischer (@Kfish_WTA) May 28, 2017
56 Serena Williams
36 Venus Williams
19 Maria Sharapova
10 Ekaterina Makarova
It’s rare that a top seed is expected to lose in the first round of a Grand Slam. That might not have been totally the case at Roland Garros this year for Kerber, but it wasn’t all that surprising that she lost to Makarova, either.
The Russian ranks fourth among active players in wins against Top 10 opponents at majors, with her straightforward victory against the world No. 1 being her tenth.
Kerber did not come into the French Open with the most confidence. The German has won one match against Top 25 players this season compared to seven losses.
“I know in the last years I always had up and downs,” Kerber said. “Right now, of course, I’m actually in the down feeling.”
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