Angelique Kerber crashes OUT of the French Open in the first round to Anastasia Potapova on her debut
- Anastasia Potapova defeated Angelique Kerber 6-4 6-2 in the first round
- Kerber has been hampered by an ankle injury and a viral illness of late
- Potapova took no prisoners, showing off frightening power in her game
Red-hot Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova scored the biggest win of her career against an undercooked Angelique Kerber.
On her debut at Roland Garros, opening the tournament on the main Philippe Chatrier court, the 18-year-old, world No 81 Potapova showed no fear to upset the No 5 seed 6-4, 6-2.
After the match, Potapova could not stop smiling. ‘I’m so happy right now,’ she said. ‘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.’
Anastasia Potapova pulled off a huge upset in the first round of the French Open on Sunday
Angelique Kerber leaves the court dejected after her first round defeat in the French Open
Kerber has been hampered by illness and injury of late but that should not detract from an exuberant display of free-hitting from Potapova. She planted her flag on the baseline and refused to budge, dictating the points and hitting 28 winners. Her backhand was a particular weapon, hit with such abandon it is a wonder she doesn’t fall over as she hits it.
After the kind of clay court season Kerber has endured so far, she was just happy to be in the draw in Paris. The 31-year-old was washed out by a viral illness as she lost to Kiki Bertens in Stuttgart, then an ankle injury forced her out of Madrid and Rome.
‘First, I’m happy to be here,’ she said before the tournament. ‘Two weeks ago I was not sure if I can make Paris. It was a long way to being here now.’
Potapova teed off on her groundstrokes, showing off her frightening power at just age 18
Even at her best – and she was decidedly below that here – Kerber struggles on clay. She has won each of the other three slams once but has never made it past the quarter-finals here.
Kerber can chase balls down all day long but she lacks the power to hit through players on a high-bouncing, slow clay court. Her ability to take the ball early and counter-punch is somewhat neutered. She addressed her struggles on the surface after the match.
‘The movements, the sliding, the bounces, how to play on clay is a little bit different to grass and hard court,’ she said. ‘It’s always a big challenge for me to have the patience to wait for the ball.’
Kerber has been struggling with an ankle injury and a viral illness of late
By taking out Kerber, Potapova effectively inherits her fifth seeding, which will give her some protection as she looks to make her first big run at a major.
She said: ‘You know, I was really looking forward for this match because Kerber, I like her very much. She’s one of my idols. When you step on the court and play your idol, you just gotta show your best.’
She certainly did that.