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September 30, 2020

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Home » Sports » Tennis

Pliskova struggles, Brady ousted

Second seed Karolina Pliskova ended Mayar Sherif’s fairytale Grand Slam breakthrough to set up a French Open second-round clash against former champion Jelena Ostapenko yesterday.

Pliskova, a semifinalist in 2017, squandered eight set points in the opening set as world No. 172 Sherif, the first Egyptian woman to play in the main draw at a Slam, took a shock lead.

However, the Czech’s greater experience eventually told as she recovered to progress 6-7 (9), 6-2, 6-4.

“I think she was playing very smart today. Of course she had a lot of confidence just winning three matches from quallies,” said Pliskova of her 24-year-old opponent. “She had nothing to lose.”

Latvia’s Ostapenko, the world No. 43, won her first match at the French Open since sweeping to her shock 2017 title when she fired 46 winners past American Madison Brengle to win 6-2, 6-1.

Ostapenko’s raw talent and fearless approach powered her to the stunning Paris triumph that saw her become the first unseeded player to win the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen since Britain’s Margaret Scriven in 1933.

However, Ostapenko admitted she struggled to cope with increased expectations following that fairytale run, and has added just two minor titles to her collection since beating Romania’s Simona Halep in the 2017 final.

“After I won here it was a tough time. I had to get used to the pressure but now it’s all gone,” the 23-year-old said.

Ostapenko reached a career high of fifth in March 2018 and made both the quarterfinals and semifinals at Wimbledon in the two appearances directly after her French Open breakthrough. But she entered this year’s concluding Grand Slam again unseeded, at 43 in the world.

Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin made a strong start against unseeded Russian Ludmilla Samsonova before losing momentum after a rain delay but the fourth seed from the United States recovered to seal a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory.

Kenin, who dumped out Serena Williams in Paris a year ago, fought back from 0-2 down in the decider to advance to a second-round tie against Romania’s Ana Bogdan at Roland Garros.

Meanwhile, a row was brewing after French player Kristina Mladenovic suffered a controversial exit against Laura Siegemund when the German player won a point off what appeared to be a double bounce.

The incident, which came with Mladenovic 5-1 ahead and holding a set point in the opener, was missed by chair umpire Eva Asderaki.

World No. 44 Mladenovic pleaded in vain and her German opponent took full advantage, racing into the next round with a 7-5, 6-3 victory.

It was a second successive miserable Grand Slam for the 27-year-old Frenchwoman who was withdrawn from the doubles at the US Open earlier this month in a row over coronavirus.

Dane Clara Tauson, just 17 and a qualifier, unleashed 48 winners to knock out American 21st seed and US Open semifinalist Jennifer Brady 6-4, 3-6, 9-7.

Tauson also saved two match points on her way to a first career main draw win. Next up for Tauson is another American in Danielle Collins, who reached the 2019 Australian Open semifinals.

“She’s a very good player. I’m just looking forward to the match and hoping I can play just as well as today,” the Copenhagen native said.

Tauson won the Australian Open junior title last year.

Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, the seventh seed, also won before rain suspended play on the outside courts. The 2019 US Open semifinalist defeated Canada’s Vasek Pospisil 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.


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