Roland Garros 2023 is underway. 20 singles matches were played today to open the competition in bottom half of WTA main draw.
No trouble for top seeds
Aryna Sabalenka and Jessica Pegula are the highest seeds from the bottom half and both have started their Roland Garros 2023 campaign from the matches against opponents, who could be considered as really tricky out of all the unseeded players from the main draw. Sabalenka has opened the Sunday's schedule on Philippe Chartier stadium, playing against Marta Kostyuk. Ukrainian had a good start and was the first one to gain a break advantage, but Sabalenka has accelerated since being 2-3 down and won 6 games in a row, taking the first set 6-3 and moving up into the lead in second one. The match performed into one-way traffic, as Sabalenka was a dominant force in second set and won it eventually 6-3 6-2. The most interesting events occured just after the match, when Kostyuk refused the handshake from Sabalenka and got booed by the crowd.
Jessica Pegula has picked Danielle Collins as the opponent in first round, while coming back to Paris after reaching out the quarterfinals in previous season. Collins has skipped almost whole the clay season due to the injury issues and showed up on the court for the first time since the start of April. The opening phase of this match was signed by quite an erratic serving performance from both players, but Collins performed some good actions ended up with impressive winners, which could give a hope for an intense battle between both Americans. This has not discouraged Pegula though, as the world's number 3 stayed composed and took the opening set with a score 6-4. Collins has dropped her level in the second set, as she lost 3 service games in a row from the start and Pegula had no issue to deliver a routine win over her fellowcountry, winning 6-4 6-2 at the end.
Muchova eliminates Sakkari
Karolina Muchova has defeated Maria Sakkari in last year's second round, performing an upset as the unseeded player. This year, the rematch has happened in the opening day of the tournament, when Sakkari approached the court as the 8th seed, but was not such an obvious favorite as in the previous edition. Muchova climbs in the ranking well after coming back from the break caused by injuries and the pre-match odds were more even between both, than favorizing the Greek clearly. The story from last year has repeated, as Muchova won in two long and tight sets, which took 2:09 hours in summary. 7-6(5) 7-5 for the Czech advances her into second round and opens quite a formidable path in the draw. Muchova plays against Nadia Podoroska in second round, and the next high and notable seed to meet is possibly Belinda Bencic in 4th round.
Shuai Zhang lives possibly the most difficult period in her career since many years. The 29th seed, has approached Paris after 7 loses in a row, including 0-6 0-6 against Anna Lena Friedsam in last week's WTA 250 tournament in Strasbourg. Today was not any better day for Zhang, who lost to Magdalena Frech 1-6 1-6 in just 49 minutes. The Chinese has shared some emotions during her post-match press conference, where she revealed the mental exhaust caused by her conflict with Chinese Tennis Federation and no possibility of coming back home for 3 years. In addition to this heartbreaking situation, Zhang suffered for injuries earlier this year, which resulted in bad on-court performance in recent months.
Apart from Zhang and Sakkari, Magda Linette is another seed to get eliminated from Roland Garros in the opening day. The 21th seed had set up an interesting match-up with last year's quarterfinalist, Leylah Fernandez. The match got settled in three sets, where the Canadian prevailed with a score 6-3 1-6 6-3. It's also a miserable time for the Pole, who managed to win just 3 out of last 10 matches. Linette has revealed in the interview for Polish media, that she has also suffered for some injury issues in recent times, which resulted in restricted on-court movements and not being able to show the full performance.
Jeanjean saves the day for hosts
Three French players have played today in the WTA competition, but just one of them managed to get through. Leolia Jeanjean prevailed against Kimberly Birrell in the longest women's match of the day. The world's number 124 won 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3 after 3:11 hours of battle, despite being close to make it done much earlier. Jeanjean was leading 4-1 with double break, but the Australian managed to level the score. Jeanjean broke her opponent again in 9th game and was serving for the match while later, having even a matchpoint there. Birrell managed to come out from this danger and forced the tiebreak. Here, the French was almost sure to close this, as being 6-2 up and having 4 matchpoints in a tally. Birrell has miraculously stayed alive in this match though by winning 6 points in a row, which has shockingly took the match into whole distance. The Australian has capitalized on her momentum after start of third set, as she broke Jeanjean twice in a row, but the French has managed to somehow regroup herself after all of the wasted chances, and came back to dominate the decisive part of this match and take the victory after thrilling battle.
Alize Cornet had set up one of the most intriguing match-ups of the day, as the French was playing against Camila Giorgi on Philippe Chartier stadium. It was a really erratic match, as 11 out of 21 games have ended up with breaks. Especially Cornet was very vulnerable on serve, winning just 3 out of 10 service games in the match, where Giorgi prevailed with a score 6-3 6-4 and moved into second round, where she plays against Pegula. Jessika Ponchet was another French to play today, but the world's number 123 suffered a crushing defeat against Nadia Podoroska, who needed just an hour to win 6-0 6-2 at the end.