Simona Halep is First Major Casualty of Women’s Draw at Roland Garros

For a recap of the men’s action, click here.

The French Open lost its first top seed today when Simona Halep lost to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. The #3 seed entered the tournament with some question marks after an indifferent clay court season, but remained one of the heavy favorites to take the title. With Halep’s loss, the bottom half of the draw becomes even more wide open; Sharapova’s odds of getting to a fourth successive final in Paris just got a major boost.

A closer look at the goings on around the courts of Roland Garros on Day Four:

 

(2) Maria Sharapova d. Vitalia Diatchenko

Score: 6-3 6-1

Sharapova showed no signs of being slowed by the cold that kept her from an on-court interview after her first round win. She disposed of the world #91 with aplomb, losing just four games. The defending champion fired 24 winners as opposed to a mere 8 unforced errors. Tied at two in the opening set, Sharapova strung together nine consecutive games before Diatchenko prevented a bagel second set. With Simona Halep’s loss today, Sharapova becomes the overwhelming favorite to return to the final.

 

Annika Beck d. Paula Kania

Score: 6-2 6-2

After scoring a big first round win over Aga Radwanska, Annika Beck backed it up with a straightforward drubbing of Kania today. With Halep’s loss today, Beck becomes one of the many candidates who could take advantage and make a deep run at Roland Garros. This is also the first time all season that Beck has won back-to-back matches at a tournament; after breaking into the top 50 in 2013, Beck now has a chance to regain some forward momentum in her career.

 

(11) Angelique Kerber d. Ajla Tomljanovic

Score: 6-3 6-2

Kerber’s 2015 season has featured major highs and lows. After making the quarters in Brisbane and semis in Sydney to start the season, she went six tournaments before being able to string together back-to-back wins (including a first round loss at the Australian Open). She’s since rebounded to win clay titles in Charleston and Stuttgart, becoming one of the players to watch in Paris. A routine win over the world #58 is another step in the right direction for the German, and an important one after Halep’s loss today.

 

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni d. (3) Simona Halep

Score: 7-5 6-1

Simona Halep is the first major casualty of the women’s draw at Roland Garros. After playing one of the best matches of 2014 in last year’s final, Halep was pegged to make another deep run. Instead, she falls to the same women who ousted her from the third round of last year’s U.S. Open, by a similar score (7-6 6-2). Lucic-Baroni made waves when she reach the fourth round of the 2014 U.S. Open, and seems poised here for another deep run, especially now that she assumes the position of top seed in one of the easier sections of the draw.

 

(20) Sabine Lisicki d. Daria Gavrilova

Score: 6-1 (retired)

Gavrilova entered the tournament as one of the more popular dark horse picks after a semifinal showing in Rome. Her fast rise has been one of the stories of 2015: ranked 158 at the Australian Open, she’s bolted all the way to #46 on the strength of a string of deep runs and an eye-opening win over Sharapova in Miami. Her retirement today comes as a disappointment after all the deserved hype; hopefully it won’t curtail the trajectory of her season.

 

(1) Hingis/Mirza d. Goerges/Krejcikova

Score: 6-3 6-0

The top seeded duo, and title favorites, began their campaign in convincing fashion today. Since switching partners prior to Indian Wells, Hingis and Mirza have taken the WTA doubles circuit by storm, winning their first three events together, and making another quarterfinal and final from six tournaments. The super team have brought some cachet to women’s doubles, and a victory here in Paris will continue to position them as one of the biggest stories in tennis for 2015.

 

Schiavone/Date-Krumm d. Allertova/Cetkovska

Score: 2-6 7-6(8) 6-1

No other doubles team has as much experience as Schiavone and Date-Krumm; the pair have a combined age of 78. After losing the first set, the aged duo sped to a 5-2 lead in the second set before having to save a match point in the tiebreak. Making a deep run at this French Open may be too tough an ask, but should they win against Krajicek/Strycova (13) in the next round, they could become one of the feel good stories to follow the rest of this fortnight.

 

Other winners included: Alize Cornet, Donna Vekic, Lucie Safarova, Sam Stosur, Elena Vesnina, Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina, and Carla Suarez-Navarro

 

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