For the second year in a row, Angelique Kerber has exited the French Open in the first round.
The World No. 1 fell to Russian Ekaterina Makarova in her opening match on Sunday, losing 6-2, 6-2 in 82 minutes. After winning two major titles at the Australian Open and U.S. Open in 2016, Kerber has not won a title yet in 2017 and struggled in her lead-up matches on clay in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome. With the loss on Sunday, Kerber becomes the first women's top seed in the Open Era to lose in the first round at Roland Garros.
When the draw came out on Friday, many marked this match-up as a potential upset. Even Kerber—who had an 0-7 record against top-20 opponents coming into the tournament so far this year—discounted her abilities on clay before the match.
“Everybody knows it's not my favorite surface, but, yeah, we have to play on clay. I try my best. Last year as well, these were not the best weeks for me. I mean, it was my best year, but when I played tournaments on clay, I was not performing so well. This year it's the same,” she said on Saturday in Paris. “It can be better. I try my best to make the best preparations I can to be ready for the first round, and then we will see how far I can go… But first of all, I am just aiming to go step by step and try to get in love a little bit with the clay.”
In her 10 French Open appearances, Kerber has only made it to the quarterfinals once in her career. 28-year-old veteran Makarova, a former World No. 8, moves into the second round and awaits the winner of Lesia Tsurenko vs. Kateryna Kozlova.