By Ossian Shine
PARIS (Reuters) – Jelena Ostapenko became only the sixth female Grand Slam champion to lose in the opening round of their title defence on Sunday when she lost to Kateryna Kozlova at the French Open.
The world number five never looked at ease on the Roland Garros main show court, slumping to a 7-5 6-3 defeat to a Ukrainian opponent who had won both the pair’s previous meetings.
Not since Anastasia Myskina lost in the opening round of the 2005 tournament has the French Open lost its women’s champion so early.
By losing, Ostapenko joins a ignominious group including, as well as Myskina, Steffi Graf, Jennifer Capriati, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Angelique Kerber who all lost as Grand Slam champions on the first run of their defences.
Kozlova, competing with a large, weeping blister on her heel which caused her to take a medical break at the end of the first set, was well worth the victory, playing with power and composure, in contrast to the flustered champion.
Ostapenko’s eyes searched the coach’s box at every opportunity, but could find no answers as she checked out early.
It might appear lower-ranked players are becoming something of an Achilles’ heel to the Latvian – already this year she had lost to two players outside the world’s top 50. Kozlova, ranked 66, makes it an unhappy hat-trick for the 20-year-old.
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)