Friday 15 December 2017 / 04:06 AM

UPSETS GALORE IN FRENCH OPEN’S EARLY ROUNDS

The second Grand Slam of the year is well underway, with renowned ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal headlining the men’s draw at the French Open as he bids for a record 10th title. The Spaniard got off to a winning start with consecutive straight-sets victories in the opening two rounds – against Benoit Paire (6-1 6-4 6-1) and Robin Haase (6-1 6-4 6-3) respectively.

But it’s been a very different story for top-20 stars Alexander Zverev and Jo Wilfried Tsonga, who are just two of the big names to have already been defeated in the early stages.

In the women’s draw, with the absence of a pregnant Serena Williams, world No.1 Angelique Kerber has already been knocked out of the tournament. We’re breaking down which other top-ranked players have made an early exit – and predict which top seeds could be in danger.

BIGGEST UPSETS SO FAR

Men’s Draw:

Alexander Zverev (9) – Zverev entered the French Open full of confidence, fresh from defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets to claim his very first Masters 1000 title in Rome. The 20-year-old also broke into the world’s top 10 as a result of the victory and looked poised to be especially dangerous in Paris. However, in a match that was delayed across two days due to poor light, Zverev eventually went down to experienced veteran Fernando Verdasco 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-2. In his post-match media conference Zverev said: “I played absolute sh**. It’s quite simple.”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (12) – The former semi-finalist hadn’t lost in the opening round of Roland Garros since his main draw debut in 2005. But 12th-ranked Tsonga proved no match for the unseeded Renzo Olivo, who had only ever played three other main draw Grand Slam matches in his career. Tsonga made 73 unforced errors during the match, nearly double that of Olivo. Similarly to Zverev, Tsonga had also entered the French Open with momentum, after winning the Lyon Open title last week.

Mischa Zverev (32) – The older but perhaps lesser-known brother of Alexander Zverev had never won a main draw match at the French Open in five attempts, so perhaps his loss against qualifier Stefano Napolitano wasn’t as surprising. However, he had only ever won one main draw match at the Australian Open in eight appearances before his shock run to the quarterfinals earlier this year. His stunning run in Melbourne also included a four-set victory against world No.1 Andy Murray and a five-set thriller against John Isner. A similar fairytale wasn’t to be in Paris.

Jack Sock (14) – Sock reached the fourth round at Roland Garros in 2015 but has since failed to match that success. Last year he lost in a five-set epic against Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the third round and this year he fell to the unseeded Jiri Vesely in straight sets 7-5 7-5 6-3. “Overall,” Sock said in his post match media conference, “a pretty horrendous day for me.”

UPSET PREDICTION

Andy Murray (1) – The world No.1 has never triumphed in Paris and he could face many challengers in the top quarter of the draw with a third-round battle against the resurgent Juan Martin del Potro looming. John Isner, Tomas Berdych, Fernando Verdasco and Kei Nishikori also linger in Murray’s top quarter of the draw.

Women’s Draw:

Angelique Kerber (1) – Kerber is a former quarterfinalist at the French Open, but this week’s first-round loss perhaps wasn’t as surprising, given Kiki Bertens had knocked her out in the first round last year as well. Kerber also didn’t enter the Grand Slam with much momentum, following a winless appearance in Rome, where she lost to qualifier Anett Kontaveit 6-4 6-0.

Johanna Konta (7) – Konta is widely predicted to eventually win a Grand Slam title, however she is unlikely to do so in Paris. The world No.8 is still yet to win a singles match at the French Open. Her 1-6 7-6 (2) 6-4 loss to 109th-ranked Su-Wei Hsieh marked Konta’s third consecutive first-round loss at the Grand Slam.

Petra Kvitova (15) – Kvitova’s loss may have also been predicted, given the circumstances of the past six months. The 27-year-old only returned to full-time practise at the start of May after an intruder stabbed her in the hand last December. Given she was initially unsure if she would ever be able to play again, Kvitova made an emotional comeback in Paris, defeating Julia Boserup 6-3 6-2 in the first round. However, it was short-lived, with Bethanie Mattek-Sands outlasting Kvitova in two tiebreak sets.

Daria Gavrilova (24) – Dasha entered the French Open in form on clay after reaching the final in Strasbourg last week, before eventually succumbing to compatriot Sam Stosur. However, she couldn’t maintain that form in Paris. Despite winning five more points overall than Elise Mertens (96 compared to 91) Gavrilova ultimately lost the match 7-6 (4) 1-6 6-4.

UPSET PREDICTION

Garbine Muguruza (4) – After winning her first-round match comfortably, the reigning champion dropped the opening set against Anett Kontaveit in the second round to set up a meeting with 27th seed Yulia Putintseva. If Muguruza prevails against Putintseva, she then faces the challenge of Kristina Mladenovic. Mladenovic may have never advanced beyond the third round in Paris, but she has reached the final of two clay court events in the lead up to the Grand Slam. Venus Williams also lingers in the second quarter of the draw.

Which other top ranked players do you think could be in danger at the French Open?

 

Full List of top seeds to have fallen

Men’s Draw:

R1: Alexander Zverev (9) lost to Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2

R1: Sam Querrey (27) lost to Hyeon Chung 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3

R1: Jo Wilfried Tsonga (12) lost to Renzo Olivo 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-4

R1: Jack Sock (14) lost to Jiri Vesely – 7-5, 7-5, 6-3

R1: Gilles Muller (26) lost to Guillermo Garcia Lopez – 7-6 (4), 6-7 (2), 6-2, 6-2

R1: Gilles Simon (31) lost to Nikoloz Basilashvili – 1-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-1

R2: Ivo Karlovic (23) lost to Horacio Zeballos 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-3

R1: Mischa Zverev (32) lost to Stefano Napolitano (Q) 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2(known for upset over Andy Murray at Aus Open

Women’s Draw:

R1: Angelique Kerber (1) lost to Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2

R1: Roberta Vinci (31) lost to Monica Puig 6-3, 3-6, 6-2

R2: Petra Kvitova (15) lost to Bethanie Mattek-Sands 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5)

R2: Kiki Bertens (18) lost to Catherine Bellis 6-3, 7-6 (5)

R1: Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (22) lost to Cagla Buyukakcay 6-3, 6-3

R1: Daria Gavrilova (24) lost to Elise Mertens 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-4

R1: Johanna Konta (7) lost to Su-Wei Hsieh 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4

R2: Barbora Strycova (20) lost to Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-1

R2: Ana Konjuh (29) lost to Magda Linette 6-0, 7-5

 

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About the author

Alyssia Varricchio

Alyssia Varricchio is a sports reporter, journalist and producer based in Melbourne.

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