World No. 1 Angie Kerber’s loss on Sunday opened the gate for a new No. 1 player, and Karolina Pliskova is open to taking the mantle.
The No. 2-seeded Czech opened her Roland Garros campaign on Monday with a 7-5, 6-2 win over China’s Zheng Saisai. Pliskova by reaching the final can become No. 1 on the WTA rankings in two week’s time.
Pliskova will next be tasked with the big-hitting Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, who beat Katerina Siniakova in three sets.
Defending champion Garbine Muguruza was also a winner in her opener as the No. 4 seed overcame a tester in the form of unseeded former champion Francesca Schiavone, topping the Italian 6-2, 6-4.
“I’m happy that I managed to play, to be kind of composed out there,” Muguruza said. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to react again on the centre court, playing against an ex-champ. I found a balance, even though some moments were difficult to overcome. I knew at some point she was going to come up with some great shots.”
Lower-seeded winners on Day 2 at Roland Garros were No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki working past Aussie teen Jaimee Fourlis in three, a back-addled No. 13 Kristina Mladenovic beating American Jennifer Brady 9-7 in the third, No. 14 Elena Vesnina outlasting Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in three, No. 16 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No. 18 Kiki Bertens coming froma set down to beat Ajla Tomljanovic, No. 23 Samantha Stosur, No. 27 Yulia Putintseva, No. 29 Ana Konjuh, and No. 32 Zhang Shuai.
Mladenovic will try and recover in time for her next match against qualifier and former French Open finalist Sara Errani.
“It was an unlucky thing that happened to me yesterday,” the Frenchwoman said of the back injury. “I made a wrong movement and I blocked my back. I stopped my practice straightaway, and my physio worked on it, they unblocked my back…I played out there for three hours, and I was just trying to find a way. It was nothing too dangerous, but when you block your back, everything is super tight and you cannot really rotate and hit the serve normally. I just dug in there. I really don’t know how I managed that…hopefully in the next 48 hours should be fine.”
The few upset-minded players Monday were Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova dismissing No. 19 CoCo Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-4; Belgian Elise Mertens outlasting No. 24 Daria Gavrilova 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-4; and German Carina Witthoeft coming from a set down to beat No. 25 Lauren Davis 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Tuesday highlights at Roland Garros are French wildcard Fiona Ferro vs. (9) Aggie Radwanska, Aussie Ashleigh Barty vs. (12) Madison Keys, Japan’s Risa Ozaki vs. Genie Bouchard, (17) Anastasija Sevastova vs. Annika Beck, and (20) Barbora Strycova vs. Alison Riske.
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