French Open 2018

She wants to turn back time

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko was beaten for the third time in as many meetings by Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova. That meant she was the first French Open women's title holder in 13 years to lose in the opening round.
Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko was beaten for the third time in as many meetings by Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova. That meant she was the first French Open women's title holder in 13 years to lose in the opening round.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Ousted champ Ostapenko laments bad day at office; Wawrinka and Azarenka also defeated

PARIS • Jelena Ostapenko is known to swat a tennis ball with wild abandon at any white line, at any moment.

That hell-bent confidence is what made her the French Open champion last year, and what led in large part to the Latvian's first-round elimination on Sunday at Roland Garros against her own, personal Ostapenko-killer.

That opponent would be Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova, who knocked off the 20-year-old for the third time in three career meetings, 7-5, 6-3.

Because of their head-to-head history, the result did not exactly amount to a shock. It did, however, remind everyone that Ostapenko is still very much a work in progress, and quite capable of self-sabotage.

"I'm really disappointed and so angry, I want to turn back the time," she said, somehow laughing at the thought. "It was a terrible day at the office today for me. I mean, in general, I played maybe like 20 per cent of what I can play."

Ostapenko added that she suffered a leg injury after the Italian Open in Rome earlier this month, and she was not 100 per cent fit.

By dropping the match with such recklessness, the world No. 5 became the first reigning French Open women's champion since Russia's Anastasia Myskina in 2004 to lose in the first round the next year.

And the upsets continued yesterday as 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka and two-time Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka were dumped out in the first round at Roland Garros.

Wawrinka, who lost to world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in last year's final, was beaten in a five-set thriller 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 by world No. 67 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain.

The Swiss player, who will slip from 30th in the world to outside the top 250 after the tournament, has been plagued by a knee injury and arrived at the year's second major having won just one match on clay in Geneva - his first event in three months - last week.

Azarenka's return to Grand Slam tennis since Wimbledon last year lasted just two sets as the Belarusian slumped to a 7-5, 7-5 loss to Czech Katerina Siniakova.

The former world No. 1, who missed much of last season after being embroiled in a custody battle over her son, has now won just two matches at Roland Garros in the last five years.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic was also well below his best yesterday after opening his campaign with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Rogerio Dutra Silva yesterday.

"I wasn't at my best, he played with a lot of spin," said the former world No. 1, who dropped serve three times against the 134th-ranked Brazilian.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NY TIMES, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2018, with the headline 'She wants to turn back time'. Print Edition | Subscribe