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Jabeur, Thiem crash at French Open

Arab trailblazer Ons Jabeur crashed out of the French Open at the first hurdle on Sunday.

Sixth seed Jabeur, seen as a potential champion, despite never having previously got past the fourth round, lost 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 to Poland’s 56th-ranked Magda Linette.

Jabeur came into the event with a season-leading 17 wins on clay in 2022, the prestigious Madrid title under her belt and a runners-up spot to world number one Iga Swiatek in Rome.

However, she was undone Sunday by 47 unforced errors in the two hour 28-minute match.

“Obviously I was expecting better but we say maybe something happens bad because there is something good happening in the future,” said Jabeur.

Linette had lost to Jabeur in the third round in 2021 having stunned an injury-hit top seed Ashleigh Barty in her previous match.

“I just tried to stay focused after the first set and tried to make her uncomfortable,” said Linette.

Also making a premature exit was 2016 champion and 10th seed Garbine Muguruza, beaten 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 by Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, the oldest woman in the tournament who came back from a set and break down.

World number 46 Kanepi, who turns 37 next month, made the last eight at the French Open in 2008 and 2012. Sunday’s victory was her 10th top ten win at a Slam.

Two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem, whose ranking has slipped to 194 after a lengthy battle with a wrist injury, was another early casualty, losing 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to 87th-ranked Hugo Dellien of Bolivia.

Thiem, the 2020 US Open champion, has yet to win a match in six attempts since his return in March. He has now lost 10 tour-level matches in a row. His last victory came in Rome just over a year ago.

‘Not greatest feeling’

The 28-year-old Austrian, a former world number three, reached at least the quarter-finals at Roland Garros five years running from 2016 to 2020. 

He finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2018 and 2019.

“It’s not the greatest feeling to go in a Grand Slam knowing that all is not perfect in practice. I don’t play like I would like to in practice,” said the Austrian.

Canadian ninth seed Felix Auger-Alissiame came into this Roland Garros without a win in two visits.

That almost became three on Sunday when he gave up the first two sets to Peruvian qualifier and Grand Slam debutant Juan Pablo Varillas before he recovered to win 2-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.

It was the first time Auger-Alissiame had come back from two sets behind to win.

Sakkari was a semi-finalist at the French Open in 2021 where she was defeated in three sets by eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova.

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