Potapova ends Kerber’s hopes of a career Grand Slam

Federer back with a bang as he makes short work of Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego

Updated - May 26, 2019 10:35 pm IST

Published - May 26, 2019 05:23 pm IST - Paris

Russia’s Anastasia Potapova in action against Germany’s Angelique Kerber on day 1 of the French Open tennis tournament in Paris on May 26, 2019.

Russia’s Anastasia Potapova in action against Germany’s Angelique Kerber on day 1 of the French Open tennis tournament in Paris on May 26, 2019.

German fifth seed and reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber saw her hopes of a career Grand Slam ended by Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova at Roland Garros on Sunday.

Kerber slumped to a 6-4, 6-2 defeat to 18-year-old Potapova, who was making her French Open debut.

Roger Federer marked his return after a four-year absence with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 win over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego and said he had “missed playing in Paris so much”. The 2009 champion in Paris will face German lucky loser Oscar Otte for a place in the third round.

Potapova said she had looked up to Kerber, 13 years her senior, as a child.

“I was really looking forward for this match, because Kerber, I like her very much. She’s actually one of my idols, and when I was young I was looking for her game, how she’s playing,” said Potapova, the 2016 junior Wimbledon champion.

“I was just speechless,” she said. “I didn’t know what to say and what to do, but, yes, I was so happy at that moment, and I’m still so happy.

“I live for this win, for these emotions, for these moments. I’m going to do everything to live it through again and again and again.”

Kerber, 31, has now lost six times in the French Open first round. The German left-hander had come into Roland Garros carrying a right ankle injury which forced her to pull out of the Italian Open and retire from her second round tie in Madrid.

“She played really good, I tried my best,” said Kerber, who was broken six times in the match which brought the curtain up on a rebuilt Court Philippe Chatrier.

“I didn’t really have great preparation and I was just happy to get on court to play the match. I didn’t have many expectations coming in.”

Federer’s sweep

It was as if the 37-year-old 20-time major winner had never been away as he swept to victory in one hour 41 minutes on a rebuilt and packed Court Philippe Chatrier.

It was his 60th successive first-round win at a Grand Slam.

“I missed it so much, so thanks for the welcome,” said Federer.

“I felt great playing on this court. It looks great and attractive, so congratulations to everyone involved.

“Hopefully I can play here again for my next match.”

Federer broke serve five times and fired 36 winners past 24-year-old Sonego, the World No. 73 who made the quarterfinals at the Monte Carlo Masters this year after qualifying.

“Two breaks in the first set was very important for me and when I was leading 4-0 I could take more risks, be more aggressive,” said the third seed.

“I know that I can play very well on clay and I am very happy to win in straight sets.”

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 champion, had the honour of opening proceedings on the new court against America’s Taylor Townsend. The 19th seed marked the occasion with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win.

Croatia’s 31st seed Petra Martic was the first winner of the 2019 tournament, easing past Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur 6-1, 6-2.

The results

First round: Men: 6-Stefanos Tsitsipas (Gre) bt Maximilian Marterer (Ger) 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(4); 11-Marin Cilic (Cro) bt Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 6-3, 7-5, 6-1.

29-Matteo Berrettini (Ita) bt Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-2; Casper Ruud (Nor) bt Ernests Gulbis (Lat) 6-2, 7-6(2), 6-0.

Oscar Otte (Ger) bt Malek Jaziri (Tun) 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-0; Alexei Popyrin (Aus) bt Ugo Humbert (Fra) 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(10), 6-3

Women: 19-Garbine Muguruza (Esp) bt Taylor Townsend (USA) 5-7, 6-2, 6-2; Johanna Larsson (Swe) bt Magdalena Rybarikova (Svk) 6-3, 6-4.

Anastasia Potapova (Rus) bt 5-Angelique Kerber (Ger) 6-4, 6-2; 31-Petra Martic (Cro) bt Ons Jabeur (Tun) 6-1, 6-2.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.