Tennis world stunned by unthinkable 54-year first at French Open

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Leolia Jeanjean became the lowest ranked player to oust a top 10 seed at the French Open by defeating Karolina Pliskova. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)
Leolia Jeanjean became the lowest ranked player to oust a top 10 seed at the French Open by defeating Karolina Pliskova. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

The women's world rankings look likely to recieve another shake-up in the wake of the French Open, after a historic capitualtion on behalf of a number of the tournament's top seeds.

World No.8 Karolina Pliskova was sent packing by the 227th ranked Leolia Jeanjean 6-2, 6-2 in one of the most stunning upsets in the tournament's history.

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Jeanjean is the lowest ranked player to oust a top 10 seed at Roland Garros since 1988, when then 16-year-old Conchita Martinez toppled ninth seed Laurie McNeil.

The result means that seven of the top 10 women in the seedings have been sent packing even before the second round is completed.

The 26-year-old Frenchwoman's story is an incredible tale of perserverance, with her progression through the world rankings unlikely at almost every turn thanks to a variety of cirmcumstances.

Jeanjean is a former big hope of French tennis who ended up living on minimum wage after a knee injury suffered when she was 15 kept her off the courts for two years.

Dropped by Nike, who had given her a 10-year sponsorship deal, and by the French federation, who had assigned her a full-time coach when she was 12, Jeanjean went to study in the United States at the Lynn University in Florida.

She came back to tennis after five years in the US only for her return to be slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I lived on minimum wage and I didn't live from day-to-day, but week after week. I put all the money I had into a week's worth of tournaments and if they went well I got another week, but if they went badly I didn't play for two months because it was financially impossible," she said.

Top seeds tumble in historic French Open collapse

Her swift disposal of Pliskova helped set up the second eye-catching statistical anomaly from the women's draw.

Pliskova joined No.2 seed Barbora Krejcikova, No.4 Maria Sakkari, No.5 Anett Kontaveit, No.6 Ons Jabeur, No.9 Danielle Collins and No.10 Garbine Muguruza in falling in the second round.

The only top-10 players to advance to the third round are No.1 Iga Swiatek, No.3 Paola Badosa and No.7 Aryna Sabalenka.

According to ESPN, this is the first time the French Open has seen three or fewer top-10 seeds advance beyond the second round since the Open era began in 1968.

The last time so many high seeds feel out of the bracket so early at any grand slam was at the 2015 US Open.

Karolina Pliskova suffered a shock second round French open defeat at the hands of Leolia Jeanjean. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Karolina Pliskova suffered a shock second round French open defeat at the hands of Leolia Jeanjean. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Pliskova made 28 unforced errors and was broken in half of her eight service games.

"I could not try to overpower her, it was impossible, so I had to try to derail her and it worked perfectly," she said.

"I don't have an explanation. I don't even realise what's happening. I know I'm 26. It's my first Grand Slam. I thought I would have lost in the first round in two sets, and I found myself beating a top-10 player," Jeanjean said.

"So honestly, I have nothing else to say. I don't really know how it's possible, what's happening. I just try to give my best to play my tennis, and it's working so far."

With AAP

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