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Tennis

Kozlova dispatches defending champion Ostapenko in first round

Kateryna Kozlova has never been to the second round at Roland Garros.
Kateryna Kozlova has never been to the second round at Roland Garros. Reuters/Pascal Rossignol
2 min

Defending champion Jelena Ostapenko slumped out of the French Open on Sunday in a blaze of errors. The Latvian who blitzed her way to her first Grand Slam title last June was dismissed in straight sets.

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Kateryna Kozlova from Ukraine won their first round match 7-5 6-3 in 94 minutes. It was the Ukrainian’s third victory over Ostapenko since 2014.

“I don’t have trouble with her. I think it didn't really matter who was on the other side of the net,” said Ostapenko. “Any player who could hit five shots back I think probably could have beaten me because I didn't really play well. She was just waiting for me to miss. And if I did 50 unforced errors, I think it says everything.”

In 2005, Anastasia Myskina became the first defending champion to lose in the first round in the tournament’s history.

Ostapenko, however, shrugged off such unwanted legend. “There are other tournaments and other opportunities. If you always remember you lost first round in a Grand Slam, then I think you have to finish your career. I will just try to forget it as soon as I can and I am just going to come back stronger next year.”

Kozlova, 24, playing in only her second match at Roland Garros, served for the first set at 5-4 but fluffed her chance. Ostapenko, then handed her back the initiative. Kozlova, ranked 67th in the world, served out at the second time of asking to take it 7-5 after 63 minutes.

The fifth seed, as expected, responded instantly at the start of the second set and broke to lead 2-0. But she then squandered her advantage in a flurry of sloppiness and ineptitude. She went a break down to trail 2-3. The recovery to 3-3 ultimately was a gesture to tantalise her supporters.

She lost the next three games to join Myskina in the hall of shame. “I came into the match with no expectations,” said Kozlova. “I really can’t believe that I’ve beaten the defending champion.”

Ostapenko’s demise eclipsed the defeat of ninth seed Venus Williams. Qiang Wang from China, the world number 85, beat the 37-year-old 6-4 7-5.

 

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