French Open: Top seed Angelique Kerber crashes out to Ekaterina Makarova in the first round
Ekaterina Makarova progresses to the second round | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

World number one Angelique Kerber’s slump continues at the French Open as the most dangerous unseeded player in the draw Ekaterina Makarova, a fellow lefty and former top 10 player, came through in a dominating scoreline of 6-2, 6-2 after just 1 hour and 22 minutes. Kerber has become the first ever top seed on the women’s side to crash out in the opening round of Roland Garros.

Makarova strolls to win the first set

Kerber seemed to have the perfect start to the match when she prevailed in a tough marathon rally just on the first point, looking solid in her groundstrokes. However, Makarova stormed straight back with more powerful groundstrokes, aiming for the lines as she broke serve easily in the opening game.

Angelique Kerber looks dejected in the match | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe
Angelique Kerber looks dejected in the match | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe

Despite serving a double fault in the process, the Russian relied on some other solid serves and consistent groundstrokes to consolidate the break and open up an early 2-0 lead. The world number one looked comfortable behind her serve when she eased through a love service game, getting herself onto the scoreboard. Makarova continued to be unthreatened on serve as she had a secure service hold to regain the two-game lead.

Makarova continued to cruise through the match when she came up with some excellent returns, exploiting the vulnerable Kerber serves as she went up a double break lead instantly. Her incredible run continued when she held her serve comfortably to lead 5-1, an unbelievable lead considering Kerber was not playing as bad as it seems on the scoreboard. Kerber finally managed to get a game when she held her serve at ease to allow herself to stay in the first set for at least one more game, forcing Makarova to serve out the set. Fending off the pressure and two break points, the Russian eventually served out the set successfully after 34 minutes.

Ekaterina Makarova looked great today | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe
Ekaterina Makarova looked great today | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe

Makarova overcomes wobbly service games to triumph

Three consecutive winners from Makarova started the set as the Russian carried over the momentum from the first set, continuing to outhit the world number one. This resulted in the former Top 10 player earning triple break points in the opening game of the second set, which Makarova eventually converted as she opened up a comfortable set and a break lead. It has become a routine for the Russian as she held her serve to love, consolidating the break in the opening game.

Angelique Kerber reaches out for a shot | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe
Angelique Kerber reaches out for a shot | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe

Winners after winners came along for Makarova as Kerber looked absolutely out-of-sorts by now, and was broken once more as the underdog, though not really, earned a commanding double break lead in the second set. Kerber finally found herself a lifeline as she came up with some good returns to get on the scoreboard in the second set, breaking straight back to lessen the deficit. Makarova had the chance to regain the lead as she immediately earned two break points in the next game, but Kerber produced some remarkable down-the-line winners to save both of them.

Despite so, Makarova was not affected and showed no signs of nerves, eventually prevailing in the marathon game to regain the double break lead, looking poised for the victory. However, there were more in store for everyone as Kerber converted her fifth break point in the marathon sixth game of the set, with Makarova throwing in an unexpected double fault to lose the break once more.

Ekaterina Makarova progresses to the second round | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe
Ekaterina Makarova progresses to the second round | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe

Just when Kerber looked to be playing her best tennis, she hit consecutive unforced errors to gift back the advantage to Makarova, giving her the golden opportunity to serve out the match. Coming back from a 0-40 deficit while serving for the match, Makarova saved a total of seven break points and eventually came through the mentally and physically draining game, being the first ever woman to defeat the top seed in the opening round of the French Open. With Kerber out of contention for the title, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep has the golden opportunity to usurp the top spot in the rankings with a deep run here.

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