Monday, May 28, 2018

Defending champ falls in first round of French Open

A forlorn Jelena Ostapenko talks to the media after losing
to local favorite CiCi Bellis in the first round of the 2016
Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Ostapenko was 19
and Bellis 17 at the time. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Jelena Ostapenko couldn't handle the pressure of defending her French Open title.
   Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine ousted Ostapenko, seeded fifth, 7-5, 6-3 on Sunday in the first round at Roland Garros.
   "Terrible day at the office today for me," Ostapenko, who committed 48 unforced errors and 13 double faults, told reporters. "I mean, in general, I played maybe, like, 20 percent of what I can play. Made like 50 unforced errors and so many double faults. Like, couldn't serve today. I had this unbelievable pressure. I felt that I'm not myself."
   Ostapenko, a Latvian who will turn 21 on June 8, became only the second defending champ to lose in the opening round of the French Open, joining 2005 champion Anastasia Myskina of Russia, and the sixth at any major tournament in the Open era.
   Last year, the 47th-ranked Ostapenko became the first woman since 1979 to win her first tour-level title in a Grand Slam tournament.
   The 24-year-old Kozlova, ranked 66th, improved to 3-0 against Ostapenko with only her second main-draw victory in a Grand Slam tournament.
   "I didn't expect anything from this match," conceded Kozlova, who wasn't sure two months ago whether she could play in the French Open because of damaged knee cartilage.
   Meanwhile, 91st-ranked Wang Qiang of China upended ninth seed and 2002 runner-up Venus Williams, who will turn 38 on June 17, 6-4, 7-5. It's the first time in Williams' career that she has lost in the first round of two consecutive Grand Slam tournaments. She fell to Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-3, 7-5 in the Australian Open.
   Also losing in the bottom half of the draw were qualifier Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 champion who will turn 38 on June 23, and Sara Errani, the 2012 runner-up. That already means there will be at least one first-time French Open finalist.
   The highest remaining seeds in the bottom half are No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 4 Elina Svitolina, No. 8 Petra Kvitova and No. 10 Sloane Stephens.
   Stephens, a 25-year-old Fresno product, crushed lucky loser Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-0 in 49 minutes. Rus, a 27-year-old left-hander ranked 106th, had only two winners and 25 unforced errors.
   Stephens, who won her first major title in last year's U.S. Open in her fifth tournament back from foot surgery, will play qualifier Magdalena Frech of Poland for the first time in the second round.
   The 20-year-old Frech, ranked 137th, defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
   Note -- After reaching the semifinals in Lyon last week, Cameron Norrie of Great Britain cracked the top 100 for the first time at No. 85. The 22-year-old left-hander turned pro only one year ago after his junior year at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.
   Norrie, who stunned No. 10 John Isner in the Lyon quarterfinals, swept the $100,000 Tiburon and Stockton Challengers in consecutive weeks in Northern California last fall.

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