World No.81 Anastasia Potapova eliminated No.5 seed Angelique, 6-4, 6-2 in 73 minutes, in the first match on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Reported by WTATennis.com
The teenager played fearlessly throughout in what was her first ever outing at the tournament and just her second career meeting with a Top 10 player, knocking the German out of Roland Garros at the first hurdle for the third time in the last four years.
Kerber, who was chasing a career Gland Slam, having equaled her career-best performance in the Parisian tournament by reaching the quarterfinals 12 months ago, had no answer to the raw power of her Russian opponent, who won just her second clay court main draw match of 2019 outside of Fed Cup play.
From the outset, the hitting of Potapova was blistering in its intensity as she drilled the ball across the net with confidence and depth, immediately punching holes into her opponent’s defenses and fashioning a two-game advantage.
Kerber, who arrived in Paris off the back of an ankle issue, showed some signs of early-tournament nerves but played her best tennis throughout the first set when faced with adversity. Twice she found herself a break down but twice she responded immediately.
By the time Potapova broke for a third time, however, it was too late for the German to respond as the set slipped away. Indeed, the game the teenager played to move ahead was her most astonishing of the match as she fought back from 40-0 down on her rival’s delivery to deal a succession of heavy groundstrokes that her more experienced rival could not answer.
Her tally of 13 winners to just 12 unforced errors told the story of her set, while Kerber, who served 71% of her first serves in, mustered just eight winners to 11 unforced errors.
There was more of the same in the second from Potapova as her level remained astonishingly high. With her confidence up, she used the dropshot judiciously to complement the terrific power that continued to force the WTA World No.5 onto the back foot.
Twice Kerber saw her serve slip away, and even when she threatened to break back in between times, fortune favored her rival, with a big net cord allowing Potapova to hold when her level temporarily wavered.
Although the German did rally to an extent, deservedly getting one of the break backs, Potapova showed no signs of nerves and, having won three match points, too the last of these as Kerber fired wide, sealing the biggest win of her career and a second-round clash with either Wang Yafan or Marketa Vondrousova.