Heartbreak for home hope Caroline Garcia who falls to shock defeat at French Open

Fifth seed loses thrilling battle against Anna Blinkova at Roland Garros

Caroline Garcia during her French Open second-round defeat against Anna Blinkova at Roland Garros on May 31, 2023.  AFP
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Home hope and fifth seed Caroline Garcia is out of the French Open after losing in dramatic fashion to Anna Blinkova at Roland Garros on Wednesday.

Garcia became the highest-ranked women's player to exit the Grand Slam so far after falling to a shock 6-4, 3-6, 5-7 second-round defeat to the Russian.

The 29-year-old is by a distance the top-ranked French player in either the men’s or women’s singles but the country’s wait for a new grand slam champion goes on.

Blinkova had never beaten a top-five player before but battled back from a set down to triumph, finally taking her ninth match point.

“It was very, very hard. This victory is a very important thing for me,” said world No 56 Blinkova, who will now face Elina Svitolina in a repeat of last weekend's Strasbourg final won by the Ukrainian.

Svitolina extended her winning streak to six matches with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 defeat of Australian qualifier Storm Hunter.

“Every match is different. I need to stay concentrated match by match and day by day,” added Blinkova.

Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk was booed by the French crowd on Sunday for refusing to shake hands with Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Svitolina also refused to shake hands with Blinkova after the Strasbourg final.

“When I step on the court, I just try to think about the fighting spirit that all of us Ukrainians have and how Ukrainians are fighting for their values, for their freedom in Ukraine,” said Svitolina. “And me, I’m fighting here on my own front line.

“I cannot be sad. I cannot be distracted in some ways. I’m just going to lose. I have a flag next to my name so I’m fighting for my country, and I’m going to do that each time I step on the court.”

World No 2 Sabalenka fought off a determined challenge from Iryna Shymanovich before winning 7-5 6-2.

The 25-year-old, who will take over top spot from Poland's Iga Swiatek with victory at the Paris Grand Slam, was made to work for the win against countrywoman Shymanovich, ranked 214th in the world.

“It was a tough match,” admitted Sabalenka. “She played really great tennis. I'm happy I was able to fight for every point and try my best.

“I'm not really very happy with my game today, so I'm probably going to work on the short balls and I'll just work a little bit tomorrow and make sure I'm ready for the next one more than I was today.”

Third seed Jessica Pegula had an untaxing afternoon, taking the first set 6-2 against Camila Giorgi before the Italian pulled out.

Ninth seed Daria Kasatkina produced the shot of the tournament so far, a fizzing tweener winner, in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over former finalist Marketa Vondrousova, while 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko lost out 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 to American Peyton Stearns.

Updated: May 31, 2023, 5:50 PM