The first major casaulty of the 2016 French Open came in the shape of the recently crowned Australian Open champion, as Angelique Kerber faltered against the in-form Kiki Bertens of The Netherlands. Having won the Nuremberg Cup on Sunday, Bertens followed that up with a confident display as she usurped the German 6-2 3-6 6-3.
French Open curse continues
Coming into the French Open on the back of winning a maiden grand slam in Australia has proven too much of a burden for many players in the past, Stan Wawrinka in 2014 the most recent example. This year was no different, as Kerber matched Wawrinka's feat by crashing out in the first round to a lower ranked opponent. Guillermo Garcia Lopez shocked the tennis world in 2014 and in 2016 it was Kiki Bertens. In a match in which Bertens dominated for the most part, Kerber could barely string consistent games together as the pressure seemed to tell.
In truth, the match had always looked like it had the capability to cause a shock, judging by the player's form and history at the tournament. Bertens came into the tournament on the back of her win in Germany, where she defeated German Julia Goerges en route to the final, whilst Kerber had lost early in both Madrid and Rome.
Bertens' confidence proved telling as she came out of the traps in a determined manner and quickly grasped the momentum of the match. Showing aggression when needed, but restraint when the point was beyond her, she confidently stormed through the first set in harly any time at all.
Kerber, who had found herself in a similar scenario in the first round of the French Open, looked fretful on the court and less than comfortable off it.
However, she was able to compose herself enough to fightback in the second as Bertens' shot-making and composure seemed to abandon her.
At one-set all, the smart money would have been on Kerber to shrug of the challenge of Bertens. Having produced a far higher level of tennis in the second set, the German looked to be firmly in the driving seat. Despite all of that, Bertens suddenly found her first set form, as Kerber looked despondent, and began to punish every slack shot from the German with a thunderous winner.
The win was sealed when Kerber, despite having saved a match-point in the same game with a world class cross-court shot which flew past Bertens, sunk a needless drop shot into the net and with that her hopes of becoming the first German since Steffi Graff of doing an Australian and French double since 1988 disappeared.
'The first set, she played good (sic), but in the third set, she starts really well. Of course I am disappointed...but that is sport and it always can happen.' Angelique Kerber said her defeat.
Bertens reward will be a winnable second round match against either Camila Giorgi of Italy, or Frenchwoman Alize Lim.