Tennis

Kerber in historic loss, tearful Kvitova returns

Angelique Kerber became the first top seed to lose in the opening round at Roland Garros yesterday, as a tearful Petra Kvitova swept to victory in her first match since surviving a knife attack which almost ended her career.

German world No. 1 Kerber dropped serve six times on her way to a 6-2, 6-2 defeat by Russia's Ekaterina Makarova.

Before this year, the earliest exits suffered by a top seed in Paris came in the second round - Justine Henin in 2004 and Serena Williams in 2014.

"At the end of the match, it was really tough as I knew she wouldn't give it to me - I had to win it," said Makarova, a former semi-finalist at the Australian and US Opens.

It was the second successive first-round exit at Roland Garros for Kerber, the reigning US Open champion.

Yesterday, she fell a double break down to trail 5-1 to her Russian opponent whom she was facing for the 12th time.

CAREER HIGH

Makarova, now ranked 40th after reaching a career high of eighth, was a double-break ahead again for 3-0 in the second set.

Four successive breaks of serve followed before Makarova saved seven break-points in the crucial eighth game to cause the upset.

Kerber's defeat makes the women's draw even more open with Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka all not playing.

Meanwhile, two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova outclassed Julia Boserup of the United States 6-3, 6-2, falling to her knees in celebration in the moment of victory before weeping at the net.

"I'm really glad to have made the decision to play here," said 27-year-old Kvitova, who was seriously hurt when she fought off a knife-wielding burglar at her home in the eastern Czech town of Prostejov in December.

"I won the match today, but I knew I had already won," she added in reference to the initial nightmare scenario in which she feared she'd lose the fingers on her left playing hand.

Kvitova, the 15th seed and a semi-finalist in Roland Garros in 2012, fired nine aces and 31 winners past Boserup, making her debut at the tournament at the age of 25. - AFP

French Open