By Bill Scott
Madrid champion Ons Jabeur on Sunday became an early victim on opening day at Roland Garros as the sixth-seeded Tunisian went down in the first round to an unfancied Polish spoiler.
Magda Linette, whose compatriot Iga Swiatek stands atop the rankings and has won her last five events, produced a 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-5 come-from-behind upset over one of the popular title tips.
The outsider claimed the win on her first match point, breaking the Tunisian in the final game after two and a half hours of battle.
The showpiece was played on a day of full attendance with no more of the COVID crowd and mask restrictions which featured in the two epidemic editions at the venue in the west of the capital.
The Jabeur match was tight throughout, with just three breaks of serve.
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“I tried to make Ons uncomfortable,” 30-year-old Linette said. “I lost to her last year here and then this year in Miami, so I kind of knew what to expect.
“I had some sort of a plan, but I just knew that she was really on fire this time and I would just really need to play point by point, stay really mentally tough.”
Jabeur, who finished runner-up last weekend in Rome to Swiatek, had defeated Linette here in the fourth round a year ago and ended a career-best 10-match win streak by the North African.
Jabeur had won her last eight first-round matches at the majors and led the WTA with 17 clay victories this season.
“I’m a little bit disappointed because I was expecting myself to go far
in this tournament, especially with the clay season starting very well for me.” Jabeur said.
“But that’s tennis, I tried to focus on the positive and reflect a lot on this match.
“I’ll have to accept today that I lost and get back to training and get ready for the grass season.”
Linette earned only the third victory of her career over a Top-10 opponent while losing 16 against the elite.
Her other victims included No.1 Ash Barty at 2021 Roland Garros and No.5 Elina Svitolina at 2021 Wimbledon.
Greek fourth seed Maria Sakkari, who has played three finals since September,, started with a comfortable 6-2, 6-3 win over French player Clara Burel.
Sakkari is playing here for the sixth time, reaching the semis in 2021.
“Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I’m in the Top Five,” she said. “But my team and my country are very proud.
“It’s amazing to travel the world and play for them.”
2016 Paris winner Garbine Muguruza lost for the second consecutive edition in the first round, going down 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi.
The 36-year-old winner has a solid record against the big names, winning her 19th match against a seed in the opening three rounds at Slams.
Muguruza lost her seventh match here from 37 played over a decade.
Another Grand Slam winner, 2017 US Open trophyholder Sloane Stephens, fared better than her Spanish counterpart, defeating German Jule Niemeier 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.
Romanian Sorana Cirstea earned the first victory of the fortnight, putting out German Tatjana Maria 6-3, 6-3 in 66 minutes to book into the second round.
Main photo:- Kaia Kinepi celebrates victory – by WTATennis.com