By Ros Satar, in Paris

  • Petra Kvitova [15]def. Julia Boserup 6-3 6-2
  • Ekaterina Makarova def. Angelique Kerber [1] 6-2 6-2
PARIS, MATCH – The opening day of Roland Garros brought ultimate highs and lows for returning Petra Kvitova and beleaguered World No. 1 Angelique Kerber.

 

Petra Kvitova [15] def. Julia Boserup 6-3 6-2

The opening Sunday at Roland Garros is always a bit of a peculiar affair. With 32 matches in all it feels like a full day, but still has that air of a tournament not quite yet in the throes of its existence.

It seemed fitting though that the opening match, almost indecently low key to start, was graced t the returning Petra Kvitova. The horror that accompanied the news of the attack in Kvitova’s home by an intruder masquerading as an engineer prompted a word-wide show of support.

Indian Wells had her image on a wall which fans signed wishing her a speedy recovery. Players voiced their support for her on social media and she admitted after her win that it had been very moving for her.

“It was great, actually. I saw the video from the Australian Open when the girls talked to me and it was really nice. I had tears, of course.

“I mean, I felt the support of everyone on social media, or just text me on my phone, and through the tournaments. The banner in Indian Wells was just amazing. Just everything to Czech Republic to my friends, so I think they will be very happy.

“Yeah, and I think this kind of nice messages helped me, as well, with the coming back, with the motivation and with the strength.”

Yet on court it was a different matter. In her pre-tournament press conference she described her comeback as having won her biggest fight, but when it came to match time – she really did not want her comeback marked with a loss. The start was almost like she had never been away. She roared into a 3-0 lead and although Julia Boserup finally got on the board, the first set was pretty much in the bag, albeit with five set points to seal the deal.

Kvitova started in the same manner in the second set, delivering a second break at the end of the set, serving it out to head into the second round. It was an emotional moment for Kvitova as she acknowledged the crowd.

She explained: “Yesterday I was thinking how everything will be, and I couldn’t really imagine how that’s going to be. I maybe thought that, you know, I would cry when I step on the court, but I didn’t today, which actually I was happy, because normally I can control my emotion on the court, so I’m happy that I kind of did it, as well, this time.

“In the end, I didn’t have to anymore. So, yeah, few tears for after the match point. Of course going as a winner from the centre court was much better than stepping on the court.”

Under a promise to her doctor that she would stop if she felt any pain, she was relieved that there was no pain. She will gain maybe an extra day of rest as the rest of the first round matches will complete by Tuesday – something that will be a relief as it is now back to business.

 

Ekaterina Makarova def. Angelique Kerber [1] 6-2 6-2

Angelique Kerber – 2017 Roland Garros (c) Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

At the opposite end of the spectrum, beleaguered World No. 1 lost a tricky battle of the lefties but more accurately can shut the door in the next few ays over a torrid clay court season.

The twice-Stuttgart champion had an opening round exit in Stuttgart, managed a couple of wins in Madrid, but it was a lulling into a false sense of security as she bombed out in Rome and now once more in the opening round of Roland Garros.

So what happens now – what process can she call on to help her prepare for a grass court season where much is expected of her? There were not any immediate answers.

“I don’t know yet. I mean, now I have a little bit more time to think about it, what I will do in the next few weeks and how I will prepare for the grass season.

“Of course I’m disappointed that the clay court season was not so good. At the end maybe it’s good that it’s over for me. But, yeah, I don’t know. I think I will go back home. I will do maybe few days’ rest or few more days. I don’t know (smiling). I really don’t know what I will do now, but for sure I will think about what is the best preparation for grass now.”

Where Kvitova looked as though she had found a new lease of life, Kerber looks lost and admitted that it is both mental and physical – certainly where the clay is concerned.

She said: “I think it’s both. I think it’s always a combination of everything. Also, like, fitness-wise is when you are not moving so good. Then it’s, of course, technical. You’re always too slow to the balls, and mentally, as well. I mean, if you are losing a lot of first rounds now, especially on clay, which is not my best surface, the confidence is not there like when I’m playing on hard or if you win a little bit more matches.”

The Roland Garros first round continues at 11am (10am BST).

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