World No.6 Ons Jabeur crashed out in an unfortunate opening to the French Open tournament, where the Tunisian played in front of an almost empty centre court at Roland Garros.
Jabeur became the first shock casualty at Roland Garros, with the in-form Tunisian exiting after a 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 loss to Poland's Magda Linette.
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That is despite coming into the event with a season-leading 17 wins on clay in 2022, the Madrid title under her belt and a runner-up finish in Rome against World No.1 Iga Swiatek.
However, she was undone by 47 unforced errors against Linette, who prevailed in a two hour 28-minute boilover.
One of the pre-tournament favourites for the women's title, Jabeur said she was not happy about being the very match scheduled on Court Philippe Chatrier - the centre court at Roland Garros.
“Well, honestly, I wasn’t happy to play on a Sunday at 11am,” she said.
“I’ve got quite a peculiar relationship with this court, I like it and I don’t like it at the same time.”
With full crowds allowed back at Roland Garros for the first time since 2019 following the Covid-19 pandemic, it was a sad indictment that Jabeur's match was played in front of a stadium full of empty seats.
A photo of the disappointing scenes saw tennis fans hit out on social media.
Only a David Law level of pumpedness would be completely undented by the empty seats on Chatrier.
Ons Jabeur deserves more 🤷♀️ pic.twitter.com/CElGpBO89A
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) May 22, 2022
— Political Jewk box. (@great_nads) May 22, 2022
Ons Jabeur is the hottest #WTA player on tour after Iga Swiatek. She's one of the most popular athletes in North Africa, the ancestral land of millions in France. But Roland Garros puts her in an empty stadium at 11 am on a Sunday. Are they trying to hide her? https://t.co/end60CiAY8
— Christopher Johnson (The Globalite) (@globaliteman) May 22, 2022
@Ons_Jabeur Tough 1st match today. Don't beat yourself up about this, you can't win them all. Chin up and on to the next challenge, but first a well-deserved rest. Then time to focus on the next big one. Your fans are behind you all the way! 👊💪💪💪
— Ponti Miras (@PontiMiras) May 22, 2022
Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who leads women’s tour in clay-court wins this season, falls in #FrenchOpen opening-day upset to Magda Linette of Poland. “I know everybody really loves Ons but thank you also for cheering for me,” Linette tells crowd on Chatrier @RolandGarros.
— Liz Clarke (@lizclarketweet) May 22, 2022
WOW. That is an absolute stunner.
6th seed Ons Jabeur is OUT of Roland Garros - in the very first match on Philippe Chatrier on Day 1 of this year's French Open. She was a set and a break up.
Magda Linette through 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-5. Jabeur was in red hot form in 2022. #RG22 https://t.co/oemiQogHrI
— Blaynos (@Blaynos14) May 22, 2022
— Vishal 🕉 (@VBG_10) May 22, 2022
The fact that there's no-one there & the majority of the picture is empty grey stands under a cloudy sky doesn't help. Come on Paris - get over to @rolandgarros! It's always grim seeing stands this empty for matches in the early rounds, particularly when they're am scheduled.
— rebecca stokes 💙 (@BecsS1970) May 22, 2022
Big guns out in women's draw
The 27-year-old sixth seed breezed through the opening set in 37 minutes, but Linette staged an inspired fightback in the second, saving four break points to level via the tiebreak before winning the decider.
Jabeur's play dipped as the match went on and she made her frustration evident by kicking balls away after losing points.
"It's difficult to take that one in," Jabeur said.
"But that's what sport is like and you need to be smart enough to move forward and get back on court. So maybe it was a good thing to lose today.
"I would rather say this and be really tough with myself than waste all the good energy that I got from Madrid and Rome."
Elsewhere, two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza - who won the French Open in 2016 - was also a shock first round loser.
Muguruza fell at the first hurdle for the second year in a row, defeated 2-6 6-3 6-4 by Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, the oldest player in the women's draw.
"It's been a tough season. I've had matches so much in control, but then I don't manage to close and it gets complicated," Muguruza said.
"But I feel that I'm training hard, I'm putting the work.
"At some point I'm a 100 per cent sure that I'm going to go out there and get those wins that have been slipping away from me."
Kanepi, who turns 37 next month, is ranked 46th and is participating in her 15th French Open.
Her best showings were quarter-final appearances in 2008 and 2012.
Coco Gauff, Maria Sakkari, Belinda Bencic and Sloane Stephens were among other big names in the women's draw to progress.
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