World number one Kerber out of French Open after first round

First top seeded woman to lose in the first round of the French Open since the sport went professional in 1968

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros

PARIS – World number one Angelique
Kerber’s nightmare season hit a new low on Sunday when she was
dumped out of the French Open 6-2 6-2 by 40th-ranked Ekaterina
Makarova.The German became the first top seeded woman to lose in the
opening round of the French Open since the sport turned
professional in 1968 — and the disparity between the players in
her Russian opponent’s favour was as wide as the scoreline
suggests.Cutting a troubled figure on court a world away from the
feisty player who last season battled her way to two grand slam
titles, Kerber lacked the pace and power to trouble a fellow
left-hander.Kerber, 29, has struggled this year, withdrawing from the
Madrid Open with a thigh injury and going down in straight sets
to qualifier Anna Kontaveit in Rome.But Sunday’s setback, albeit on a surface she has no great
affection for and having made an opening-round exit in Paris
last year, threatens to leave her season in tatters.”I need matches. I need matches where I can start playing
and feeling my tennis. Winning matches,” she said prior to
Sunday’s loss.That picture offers the starkest of contrasts with a
spectacular 2016 that also brought her major wins in the
Australian and U.S. Opens and a runner-up spot at Wimbledon.Makarova – who had won four of her previous 11 encounters
with Kerber – was making her first singles appearance on the
Philippe Chatrier centre court as well as fighting against
history.But, arriving at Roland Garros high on confidence after
having beaten Agnieszka Radwanska and Dominika Cibulkova on clay
this year, she held her nerve to close out the match in a final
game that featured five deuce points.”I was also fighting with my emotions not to wait for a
mistake (by Kerber),” she said courtside.The Russian had imposed herself early in the first set,
hitting a series of blistering forehand winners down both wings
that Kerber often struggled to reach.After briefly threatening a recovery in the eighth game, in
which she held two break points, Kerber meekly surrendered the
first set with a forehand that never looked like clearing the
net.The German dropped serve in the next game, with Makarova
hitting another four clean forehand winners to consolidate her
hold on the match.