Victoria Azarenka suffers a surprise French Open exit on her Grand Slam return
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 28/05/18 2:37pm
Victoria Azarenka suffered a surprise first-round exit to Katerina Siniakova at the French Open, to become the latest high-profile casualty at Roland Garros.
Azarenka, competing in her first Grand Slam tournament since last year's Wimbledon, slipped to a 7-5 7-5 defeat against world No. 54 Siniakova in a topsy-turvy tussle on Monday.
The former world No 1 had never faced Siniakova before, but the 22-year-old Czech rose to the occasion to secure her first main draw win at Roland Garros.
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Both players were largely dominant on serve in a fiercely contested opening set, but Siniakova broke to love in the 12th game to claim the opening set 7-5.
However, the second set followed a very different pattern. Azarenka secured an instant break to kick off the second set, but she could not cement this advantage after relinquishing her serve in the very next game.
With the scores locked at two apiece in the second, the pair then traded four successive breaks of serve in an extraordinary passage of play, with Azarenka unable to capitalise on the opportunities she continued to create.
Siniakova then edged into a 6-5 advantage and for the second set in succession, she broke to love to complete the biggest victory of her career.
Azarenka's hopes had been given a boost following the departure of defending champion Jelena Ostapenko on Sunday, who she had been due to face in the second round.
Nevertheless, the two-time Grand Slam winner was punished for an erratic display in which she committed 38 unforced errors.
Siniakova will now face world No. 66 Kateryna Kozlova for a place in the last 32, after the Ukrainian accounted for Ostapenko in Sunday's first round.
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Elsewhere, Petra Kvitova recovered from a set behind to defeat Paraguay's Veronica Cepede Royg 3-6 6-1 7-5.
The 26-year-old qualifier, who reached the fourth-round at Roland Garros twelve months ago, made just two unforced errors in the opening set to clinch it 6-3.
Despite this, eighth seed Kvitova breezed through the second set in just 29 minutes, before coming through a gruelling final set to advance to round-two.
Carla Suarez Navarro raced to victory in just 42 minutes after thrashing Ana Konjuh 6-0 6-1, to set up a second-round showdown against Greece's Maria Sakkari.
Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka also comfortably advanced to the second-round with a straight sets 6-2 7-5 victory over American Sofia Kenin.
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