Déjà vu as Muchova downs Maria in Paris opener

FOR the second successive year, Czech Karolina Muchova has knocked off Greek talent Maria Sakkari at the French Open, grinding out a 7-6 7-5 victory on Court Suzanne Lenglen to advance to the Round of 64. After defeating Sakkari in the second round last year at Roland Garros, Muchova double down on her efforts against the Greek in Paris having won in two tiebreak sets last year.

Leading the overall head-to-head 3-1, Muchova has enjoyed some great form on the clay of late, after finishing her hard season with a quarter-finals appearance in Indian Wells – which included wins over Victoria Azarenka and Marketa Vondrousova – and a third-round spot at Miami. That followed an impressive straight sets win over Anett Kontaveit in Madrid, before the world number 43 fell to Spanish clay court star Paula Badosa in the third round at Rome.

“I had a great run in Rome, so that for sure boosts my confidence a little bit on clay,” Muchova said post-match. “I felt great in the practices as well.

“I got some matches under the belt, so that helps. I felt pretty confident. Obviously I knew I have a tough draw, and it’s going to be a tough match, and it was. I’m just, again, glad that I finished it in two.”

Sakkari is no stranger to past success on the French clay, with a semi-finals appearance in Paris two years ago. Having only lost one of 16 first-round Grand Slam matches in her WTA Tour career, the Greek was favoured to get the better of Muchova, but ultimately fell short of the Czech.

Muchova hit 23 winners to Sakkari’s 16, while committing six fewer unforced errors (29-35) and winning a whopping 71 per cent of her points at the net compared to the Greek’s 38 per cent. Muchova will take on Argentinian Nadia Podoroska in the Round of 64, following the former semi-finalists’ 6-0 6-2 demolition of French wildcard Jessika Ponchet.


In the all-American battle, third seed Jessica Pegula proved too strong for compatriot Danielle Collins running out a straight sets winner, 6-4 6-2. She was joined in the second round by second seed Aryna Sabalenka who brushed past in-form clay courter Marta Kostyuk.

Russian ninth seed Daria Kasatkina who took care of German Jule Niemeier in straight sets. Liudmila Samsonova, Qinwen Zheng, Elise Mertens, Anastasia Potapova and Irina-Camelia Begu were the other seeds to advance to the Round of 64.

Canadian Leylah Fernandez defeated 21st Polish seed Magda Linette in three sets, while Linette’s countrywoman gained some revenge with a comprehensive 6-1 6-1 smashing of Chinese 29th seed Shuai Zhang. The other one who caught the eye on day one was Danish rising talent Clara Tauson who crushed Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 6-0.

The men’s draw largely went to plan with the big guns winning on day one including fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and seventh seed Andrey Rublev who both needed four sets to get the job done. Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis was the only player to knock off a seed in 20th seed Daniel Evans in straight sets, while Portugal’s Nuno Borges won 11-9 in the fifth over towering American John Isner to advance to the next round.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments