French Open: Kateryna Kozlova stuns defending champion Jelena Ostapenko

Kozlova, who had won only one match in six previous Grand Slam tournaments, was largely unfancied heading into this clash, though some dire tennis from Ostapenko help the Latvian secure the biggest upset of the first day of action in Paris.

French Open: Kateryna Kozlova stuns defending champion Jelena Ostapenko
Kateryna Kozlova celebrates the biggest win of her career (Jimmie48 Photography)
Kateryna Kozlova
2 0
Jelena Ostapenko

Fifth seed and defending French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko crashed out of the tournament on the very opening day on Sunday, with world number 67 Kateryna Kozlova overcoming the Latvian in straight sets to secure the best win of her career.

Only once in the open era had the defending women’s champion in Paris falling in the first round, with Anastasia Myskina falling to Maria Sanchez Lorenzo back in 2005 after her sole major triumph 12 months prior, and very few people would have predicted Ostapenko to fall in the same manner. However, the Latvian never really got going out on Court Philippe Chatrier, with 48 errors to just 22 winners contributing to her demise.

Kozlova in action during her match against Jelena Ostapenko (Jimmie48 Photography)
Kozlova in action during her match against Jelena Ostapenko (Jimmie48 Photography)

It was hardly a faultless performance from Kozlova either, with the Ukrainian also hitting more errors from winner, but she was generally the cleaner of the two, especially when it came to the big rallies, and impressively sealed the biggest win of her career. Kozlova prevailed 7-5, 6-3 after an hour and 34 minutes of play.

Kozlova through as Ostapenko falters on first day of title defence

The first day of action in Paris had already brought a few upsets, with both Venus Williams and Johanna Konta falling on the women’s side, though the previous matches on Chatrier had all gone to plan, with Grigor Dimitrov, Alize Cornet, and Lucas Pouille all progressing to the second round.

Ostapenko had shown some encouraging form heading into the tournament, reaching the last eight in Rome, though was the first to be broken in this match, double faulting to hand the Ukrainian a 2-1 lead. Kozlova then remained firm on her own saving, saving break point in two consecutive games as she took a 4-2 lead in the opening set.

After a wobbly start, the fifth seed looked to be getting back into contention towards the business end of the opening, finally breaking Kozlova to even up proceedings at 4-4. More sloppy tennis, however, saw Ostapenko get broken to allow the Ukrainian to serve for the set, and though she herself was broken here, Kozlova broke the defending champion again at 5-5 and this time made no mistake, sealing a messy opening set.

Ostapenko fell at the first hurdle in her title defence (Jimmie48 Photography)
Ostapenko fell at the first hurdle in her title defence (Jimmie48 Photography)

Now in serious trouble, it was crucial for Ostapenko to clean up her game and take control, and it seemed she was on the right path to do this as she broke early on in the second set for a 2-0 lead. However, after such a bright start, she once again started to falter badly, and Kozlova took advantage of some poor tennis to turn the set around, breaking twice to hold a 3-2 lead.

A set and a break up, it looked as if Kozlova was perhaps struggling under pressure, with Ostapenko breaking back for 3-3, though the Ukrainian rebounded impressively as she broke once again and consolidated for a 5-3 lead in the second. Kozlova proceeded to force two match points on her opponent’s serve, and though she missed the first, another error from Ostapenko’s racket saw her secure an unfortunate place in tennis history, and hand Kozlova just a second win at a Grand Slam tournament.

Kozlova will next face Katerina Siniakova or two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka in the second round.