Among top 10 upsets, long shots take center stage at French Open

PARIS – In Grand Slam tournaments, top-ranked, well-known and accomplished players lose to lesser-ranked, lesser-known and underachieved opponents, providing a rare opportunity for lesser-known winners. Opportunity to enjoy the spotlight.

For the first time in nearly half a century, only three of the top 10 seeds at the French Open have reached the round of 32.

So meet Leolia Jeanjean: 26 years old; from Montpellier, France; No. 227; wildcard entry after never being a Grand Slam participant; seemed destined for greatness in tennis as a child, so much so that in her There were sponsorship deals before high school, until the injured knee derailed. She left the sport for a few years before finally moving to the United States, where she played college tennis at Baylor University, then Arkansas, then Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, while majoring in finance. At Lynn, she was undefeated in both singles and doubles, so she thought maybe a career was worth a shot.

Let’s make a good choice. Her opponents at Roland Garros so far, including Karolina Pliskova, a two-time Grand Slam finalist and No. 8 seed, failed to offer much resistance on Thursday , and were beaten by a handicap 6-2 and 6-2 in the final. Round two on Thursday.

“Even me, I don’t have any explanation. I don’t even know what happened,” Jean said. “This is my first major. I thought I was going to lose two sets in the first round – and I found myself beating top 10 players. So, to be honest, I have nothing to say. I I really don’t know how this is possible.”

At this time a year ago, she was ranked outside the 800th in the lower tiers of the International Tennis Federation, winning hundreds of dollars. Whatever happens next game, she will leave Paris with at least 125,000 euros ($135,000).

“When I stopped playing when I was young, I just wanted to give myself another chance,” Jean said. “Because in my head, since I was doing great at 14, 15, I thought, ‘Why can’t I be great in 10 years?’ So that’s why, yeah, I (got) a chance . . So far, it’s working.”

When asked if he was also shocked by all this, Jean’s three-month coach, Thomas Delgado, replied quickly, with a straight face: “No.” He then smiled and continued: “Well, yes. , I am. … On the one hand, I was surprised she did it. But on the other hand, I knew she could.”

No. 9 Danielle Collins, runner-up at the Australian Open in January, was also beaten by No. 50 Shelby Rogers 6-4, 6-3 in a showdown between the Americans. Shelby Rogers) eliminated.

The last time only three or fewer top-10 women’s seeds made it to the Roland Garros round of 32 was in 1976, according to the WTA. Back then, only eight players were seeded in the 64-man field at the start, half the size of the current tournament.

Pliskova and Collins join No. 2 Barbora Krejcikova – the 2021 champion who was beaten in the first round on Monday before withdrawing from doubles because she tested positive for COVID-19 – No. 4 Maria Sakkari, No. 5 Anett Kontaveit, No. . 6 Ons Jabeur and No. 10 Garbiñe Muguruza, both of whom left on Wednesday.

The rest of the trio, all in the top half of the group stage, won their second round on Thursday: No. 1 Igas Vatek extended her winning streak to 30, the most since William Jr. in 2013. James’ longest winning streak in women’s tennis since 34 games, 6-0, 6-2 over Allison Riske; No. 3 Paula Badosa recovered from a midfield error, Passed Kaya Yuwan 7-5, 3-6, 6-2; No. 7 Aryna Sabalenka defeated Madison Brengle 6-1, 6-3.

“I would be like, ‘Wow, that’s good because they’re losing.’ But in this case, I’m more like, ‘Okay, pay attention, because anything can happen,'” a year ago in Bardoza, who reached the quarter-finals in Paris, said. “You saw it today.”

The men’s draw was indeed exciting – including a five-set victory after third-placed Alexander Zverev and sixth-placed Carlos Alcaraz fell behind on match point on Wednesday – but all 12 top seeds entered The third round, the first, has happened at the French Open since 2009, according to the ATP.

No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros last year, saved four sets after falling 6-2 in the final tiebreaker before finishing with 6-3, 7-6 eliminated 134th-ranked qualifier Zdenek Kolar (8), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (6) in Thursday night’s 4:6 quarreling.

Coral hadn’t won a Tour-level match until this week, but his relentless ball tracking led Tsitsipas to admit at the end: “He’s driving me crazy. Yeah, it’s really frustrating. … No Easy. Not easy.”

Pliskova has been No. 1, finishing runners-up at Wimbledon last year and the 2016 US Open, and reaching the French Open semifinals in 2017.

“Of course, one thing is the way I play,” Pliskova said, “and I think the other thing is the way she plays.”

Down 2-1, Jeanjean followed with a nine-game winning streak, displaying some strategic intelligence that Delgado hailed as one of her greatest attributes, saying: “She knows where to play, how to play, and when to play.”

always have. Caroline Garcia, a former fourth-ranked French player, knew Jean a long time ago. They were doubles teammates in a series of youth events in Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela and Italy in 2010 when Garcia was 16 and Jean was 14.

“When she was 10, 12, she was like the best of the best, and everyone thought she was going to be incredible. Then she just disappeared. … Now, she’s doing it again,” “She can prove to everybody, like, if you believe, you can do it,” Garcia said.

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