Ons Jabeur and Garbine Muguruza stunned in French Open first round

Tunisian sixth seed defeated 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 by world No 56 Magda Linette before the 2016 champion exits

Ons Jabeur expresses her frustration during the French Open first round match against Magda Linette. EPA
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Ons Jabeur, one of the favourites to win the French Open, was stunned in the first round on Sunday after the Tunisian let slip a one-set lead to lose 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 to Poland's Magda Linette.

Jabeur arrived in Paris as one of the WTA Tour's form players having won the Madrid Open - the first Arab player to win a Masters title - before reaching the Italian Open final. The Tunisian sixth seed looked on course for a comfortable and expected victory when she took the first set on Court Philippe Chatrier. After both players exchanged breaks early in the set, Jabuer took charge with breaks in the fifth and ninth games to take the lead.

Jabeur had a golden opportunity in the eighth game of the second set to put herself on the brink of victory but failed to convert any of three break points which would have given her the chance to serve for the match. Instead, the set went to a tiebreak, with world No 56 Linette sending the match into a decider.

As drops of rain fell on the main showcourt, Jabeur's level also dipped and her unforced errors climbed and she made her frustration evident by kicking balls away after losing points.

Linette, who lost to Jabeur in the third round last year, went up 4-2 in the third set but saw her advantage slip away when Jabeur broke her serve back to stay alive.

But the Pole sealed the match when the Tunisian wasted a 40-0 lead in the 12th game and found the net on match point to be broken for the second time in the set.

Despite the disappointment, Jabeur said she will learn from the defeat and focus on the future.

"I'm a pretty positive person, to be honest with you, I'm not going to let a match like this ruin it," she said.

"Obviously I was expecting better but maybe it's a good thing for me to reflect on this match and say maybe something bad happens because there is something good happening in the future.

"I don't know, hopefully the grass season, hopefully Wimbledon, but this is definitely a great time to reflect and to see what's going to happen next."

Jabeur was soon followed out of Roland Garros by another top seed after Garbine Muguruza suffered a second consecutive first-round exit, going down 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Estonian Kaia Kanepi to continue her worrying downturn in form.

Muguruza, who lifted the Suzanne Lenglen Cup in 2016 and reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros two years later, was in cruise control in a one-sided first set before Kanepi ground her way back into the match.

The decider was close but the 36-year-old Kanepi, who has reached the quarter-finals in all four Grand Slam tournaments, took her chances and prevailed when Muguruza made an unforced error.

Muguruza finished last year on a high, winning the WTA finals, but the world No 10 has had a dreadful 2022, managing consecutive wins only once, and the 28-year-old Spaniard was at a loss to explain her decline.

"It is very hard, in the end. You have nothing guaranteed. The fact that you finished the year, the previous year well doesn't guarantee that you're going to start the year playing at the same level," Muguruza said.

"You've got to work and you've got to fight for it. We all know that every year is different and so far just working through it.

"It's been a tough season though. I mean, I've had matches so much in control, but then I don't manage to close and it gets complicated and then a match is a match and at the end there's only a winner. But I feel that I'm training hard, I'm putting the work."

Updated: June 24, 2022, 11:54 AM
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