Teen Potapova 'speechless' after eliminating idol Kerber

Angelique Kerber has now lost six times in the first round of the French Open, after she slumped to a 6-4, 6-2 loss to Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova yesterday.
Angelique Kerber has now lost six times in the first round of the French Open, after she slumped to a 6-4, 6-2 loss to Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber saw her hopes of a career Grand Slam ended by Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova at Roland Garros yesterday.

The German fifth seed slumped to a 6-4, 6-2 loss to her 18-year-old opponent, who was making her French Open debut.

Kerber, 31, has now lost six times in the first round of the French Open, though the former world No. 1 later said she "did not have many expectations coming in".

She had come into the major with an ankle injury that had forced her to pull out of the Italian Open and led to her second-round retirement in Madrid.

The former Australian and US Open champion, who was broken six times in the match which brought the curtain up on a rebuilt Court Philippe Chatrier, said: "She played really good, I tried my best.

"I didn't really have great preparation and I was just happy to get on court to play the match."

Potapova, however, was left "speechless" after making short work of her "idol" Kerber, and the world No. 81, who hit 28 winners, credited her coach for giving her "a lot of confidence".

She said: "I was just speechless. I didn't know what to say and what to do but, yes, I was so happy at that moment, and I'm still so happy. I live for this win, for these emotions, for these moments. I'm going to do everything to live it through again and again and again.

"I was really looking forward to this match because I like her very much. When I was young, I was looking for her game, how she's playing.

"When you step on the court and you play your, I would say 'idol', you've just got to show your best. That helped me. So yeah, I was fighting for every point."

Playing in the main draw of the French Open for the first time, Potapova showed little fear as she recorded her first win over a top-10 player and, afterwards, in typical teenspeak, she revealed her "phone is exploding right now".

The 2016 junior Wimbledon champion, who will next play Czech Marketa Vondrousova, added: "You know, social media, anything, WhatsApp, the messengers."

The draw also opened up nicely for her, too, with 28th seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain the highest-ranked player she can face before the fourth round.

Potapova is one of several teenagers making their presence felt on the WTA Tour this year.

Vondrousova, 19, claimed a surprise win over French Open champion Simona Halep last week in Rome, while 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova reached the last 16 of the Australian Open and Canada's Bianca Andreescu, 18, was a shock title-winner at Indian Wells.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2019, with the headline 'Teen Potapova 'speechless' after eliminating idol Kerber'. Print Edition | Subscribe