Get Ready for Musical No. 1s After Kerber Upset at French Open
by Jeremy Davis | May 28th, 2017, 7:40 pm

Ana Ivanovic. Jelena Jankovic. When Serena Williams is sidelined, a lot of new names begin showing up, not necessarily valid, at the No. 1 spot on the WTA rankings.
It won’t be any different in 2017. The dominant American is sidelined for the remainder of the year due to pregnancy. Angelique Kerber got a turn, and now so will others.

The struggling world No. 1 Kerber became the first top seed in the Open Era to lose in the opening round of the French Open on Sunday, falling to Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2. Now the spotlight will be on both Karolina Pliskova, who can become No. 1 for the first time by reaching the Roland Garros final, and Simona Halep who can become No. 1 for the first time by winning the title in Paris.

Kerber was +9 in unforced errors to winners, and converted only two of 16 break chances.

“I think she played a good match. It was a tough first round,” Kerber said. “I had a few chance in the first set and also in the second set, and I didn’t make it. I think that was the key for the match. I believed in the second set, as well, that I can turn around the match and I was still believing until the last point, but she played well.”

Top 10-seeded winners Sunday were No. 6 Dominika Cibulkova rolling over Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena Vecino 6-2, 6-1; No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova handling American Christina McHale 7-5, 6-4; and No. 10 Venus Williams navigating past China’s Wang Qiang 6-4, 7-6(3).

“It was really, really tough,” Kuznetsova said. “I wasn’t playing so good. When you’re so nervous, you kind of gotta relax and just play the game. I felt like I was playing against myself…On the changeover for 5-4 I thought it was 4-3. I heard it was 5-4, and that meant I just had to serve for the match. So the umpire got me really happy. I’m like, ‘What is the score?’ He’s like, ‘5-4.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, good.’ And he looked at me like I was from another planet.”

Other seeded winners were No. 15 Petra Kvitova making her 2017 debut with a 6-3, 6-2 win over American Julia Boserup, and No. 30 Timea Bacsinszky breezing past Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-1, 6-2.

“I think I played well after six months off,” said Kvitova, who will next meet another American in Bethanie Mattek-Sands. “I’m happy with the game, of course, but I mean, it wasn’t really about the game today…I maybe thought that I would cry when I stepped on the court, but I didn’t today, which I was happy about, because normally I can control my emotion on the court, so I’m happy that I kind of did it, as well, this time…So, yeah, a few tears for after the match point. Of course, going as a winner from the center court was much better than stepping on the court.”

Also on the upset tip Sunday were Turkey’s Cagla Buyukakcay topping No. 22 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-3, 6-3, and Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig outlasting No. 31 seed Roberta Vinci 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

“I haven’t had the most amazing year, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself,” Puig said afterwards. “When you get to a Grand Slam, it’s just a different feel. You want to do well. You want to pass rounds. You want to have some big wins. I’ve never beaten Roberta in competition before, and she’s such a tough player, especially on the clay. Today was just all about the heart and the fight and just I was willing to go the extra mile to bring out that match.”

Monday’s highlights at Roland Garros include (4) Garbine Muguruza vs. Francesca Schiavone in a battle of former champions, (2) Karolina Pliskova vs. Saisai Zheng, (19) CoCo Vandeweghe vs. Magdalena Rybarikova, and (32) Shuai Zhang vs. Donna Vekic.

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5 Comments for Get Ready for Musical No. 1s After Kerber Upset at French Open

RZ Says:

I don’t think it’s right to say that someone isn’t a “valid” #1 player. You could say they are a weak #1, or lucky to get to #1. But the #1 ranking is based on points earned over the last 52 weeks and whoever has the most points is the valid #1.

Van Persie Says:

Kerber won 2 GS last Year, Silver MedL and Finalist at the WTF, she earned her Nr. 1 ranking. She got qeak afterwards. Nor all tennis players are meant to be dominant as Nr. 1 or to bevome alltime greats.

Van Persie Says:

She got weak…sorry for the typos

RZ Says:

Agree VP. Kerber was a strong #1 when she got there (even if she is weak now) and had a fabulous 2016.

Izak Walz Says:

I believe it’s almost a given that it’ll most probably be Pliskova whom will dethrone Kerber at the top and become the number one ranked player in the world however I honestly believe that by the end of this​tennis year it’s going to be either Kvitova, or Azarenka who’s going to be ranked on top. At this juncture during the tennis year it’s clearly quite difficult to be for certain which player will finish on top because Kvitova just returned from being sidelined for over seven months due to being the victim​of a knife attack during a home robbery and Azarenka will be back starting at Wimbledon so we’ll soon be getting a clearer picture of how the rankings will be unfolding by the end of this year. My personal prediction for the top (5) rankings are as good….(1) Kvitova (2) Azarenka (3) Pliskova (4) Muguruza (5) Halep

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