A sad photo exposes the problem of Ons Jabeur, Carlos Alcaraz wins
Ons Jabeur’s Tunisian suffered a shock first-round exit from Roland-Garros on Sunday but admitted “maybe it was good to lose”.
The world No. 6 crashed out to 56th-placed Magda Linette of Poland, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5.
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The 27-year-old was seen as a potential champion in Paris, although he never made it past the fourth round.
Jabeur entered the event with a season-leading 17 wins on clay in 2022 and with the prestigious Madrid title under her belt and a runners-up spot in Rome against world number one Iga Swiatek.
However, they were undone on Sunday by 47 unforced errors in the two hour and 28 minute game.
“Obviously I expected better, but we say something goes wrong because something good happens in the future,” Jabeur said.
“Hopefully the grass season, hopefully Wimbledon, I don’t know, but it’s definitely a good time to reflect and see what happens next.
“So maybe it was a good thing to lose today. I’d rather say that and be really hard on myself than waste all the good energy I got from Madrid and Roma.
Jabeur said she was not happy to see that she was taking proceedings on the Philippe Chatrier court on the opening day of the tournament, the first French Open with a full crowd since 2019 after two years affected by the pandemic.
“Well, honestly, I wasn’t happy playing on a Sunday at 11 a.m.,” she added. “I have a rather special relationship with this court, I like it and I don’t like it at the same time.”
There were hardly any fans on hand to watch the start of the first match on center court this year, as this sad photo reveals.
Meanwhile, Carlos Alcaraz lived up to the growing hype with a winning start on Sunday.
Alcaraz, who is bidding to become the eighth teenager to win a men’s major title, beat lucky Argentinian loser Juan Ignacio Londero 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 without facing a break point on his debut at the Court Philippe Chatrier.
Widely tipped to end the dominance of 13-time champion Rafael Nadal and two-time winner Novak Djokovic, Alcaraz extended their season-high to 29 wins and just three losses.
The 19-year-old crushed 22 winners ahead of Londero who took on the Spaniard’s challenge early on until he was beaten in the 10th game of the first set.
Alcaraz then ran away with the tie thanks to a double break in the second set and a triple break in the third to set up a second-round clash with compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
“I have been watching this tournament for many years. It’s a unique place to play and I dreamed of playing here,” said Alcaraz, who made the third round in 2021 after finishing qualifying.
Alcaraz has four season-leading titles in 2022. At the Madrid Masters, he beat Nadal, Djokovic and Alexander Zverev to claim the title.
Germany’s third seed Zverev, a semi-finalist last year and set to face Alcaraz in the quarter-finals, also advanced to the second round with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 victory over the ‘Austrian Sebastian Ofner, world number 218.
Tenth seed and 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza made an early exit, beaten 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 by Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, the oldest woman in the tournament who came back from a set and collapsed.
World No. 46 Kanepi, who turns 37 next month, made the last eight at Roland Garros in 2008 and 2012. Sunday’s win was her 10th top-10 win at a Slam.
Greek fourth seed and 2021 semi-finalist Maria Sakkari made it through to the second round with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over France’s Clara Burel.
Two-time finalist Dominic Thiem, whose ranking fell to 194 after a long battle with a wrist injury, was another early victim, losing 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to 87th-placed Hugo Dellien of Bolivia. .
Thiem, the 2020 US Open champion, is yet to win a match in six attempts since returning in March. He has now lost 10 consecutive matches at tour level. His last victory came in Rome just over a year ago.
The 28-year-old, a former world number three, reached at least the Roland Garros quarter-finals five consecutive years from 2016 to 2020. He finished runners-up to Nadal in 2018 and 2019.
“It’s not the best feeling to go to a Grand Slam knowing that not everything is perfect in training,” said the Austrian.
Canada’s ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime entered this Roland Garros without a win in two visits.
It almost became three when he gave up the first two sets to Peruvian qualifier and Grand Slam debutant Juan Pablo Varillas before recovering to win 2-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.
Top-seeded and defending champion Djokovic, who turned 35 on Sunday, and fifth-seeded Nadal, with 41 Grand Slam titles between them, won’t be in action until Monday.