Pliskova struggles past Egyptian trailblazer

PARIS: Second seed Karolina Pliskova ended Mayar Sherif’s fairytale Grand Slam breakthrough to set up a Roland Garros second round clash against former champion Jelena Ostapenko on Tuesday.
Pliskova, a semifinalist in 2017, squandered eight set points in the opening set as world number 172 Sherif, the first Egyptian woman to play in the main draw at a Slam, took a shock lead.
However, the Czech’s greater experience eventually told as she recovered to progress 6-7 (9/11), 6-2, 6-4.
“I think she was playing very smart today. Of course she had a lot of confidence just winning three matches from quallies,” said Pliskova of her 24-year-old opponent. “She had nothing to lose.”
Latvia’s Ostapenko, the world 43, won her first match at the French Open since sweeping to her shock 2017 title when she fired 46 winners past Madison Brengle of the United States to win 6-2, 6-1.
“After I won here it was a tough time. I had to get used to the pressure but now it’s all gone,” said the 23-year-old Ostapenko.
Meanwhile, a row was brewing after French player Kristina Mladenovic suffered a controversial exit against Laura Siegemund when the German player won a point off what appeared to be a double bounce.
The incident, which came with Mladenovic 5-1 ahead and holding a set point in the opener, was missed by chair umpire Eva Asderaki.
World number 44 Mladenovic pleaded in vain and her German opponent took full advantage, racing into the next round 7-5, 6-3.
It was a second successive miserable Grand Slam for the 27-year-old Frenchwoman who was withdrawn from the doubles at the US Open earlier this month in a row over coronavirus.
Denmark’s Clara Tauson, just 17 and a qualifier, unleashed 48 winners to knock out American 21st seed and US Open semi-finalist Jennifer Brady 6-4, 3-6, 9-7.
Tauson also saved two match points on her way to a first career main draw win.

DJOKOVIC CRUISES
Novak Djokovic’s bid to become the first man in half a century to win all four Grand Slam titles twice got off to a straightforward start with a 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Sweden’s Mikael Ymer. It was the world number one’s 32nd win in 33 matches in 2020, his only loss coming when he was defaulted from the US Open. World number one Djokovic, bidding for a second French Open title and 18th career major, will play either Hugo Dellien of Bolivia or Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis for a place in the last 32.— AFP

KENIN SURVIVES SCARE
Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin recovered from a break down in the final set to defeat 125th-ranked Russian Liudmila Samsonova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round. Fourth seed Kenin, who dumped out Serena Williams in Paris a year ago, fought back from 2-0 down in the decider to advance to a second-round tie against Romania’s Ana Bogdan. — AFP