The current World No. 1, Angelique Kerber of Germany must be wondering what she has to do to hang on to her ranking and to win another Grand Slam tournament.
Since taking over the No. 1 spot from Serena Williams during the US Open in September last year, which she also went on to win, Kerber and Williams have been playing yo-yo with the ranking, and Kerber has failed to make any notable impression, other than two final appearances – WTA Finals in October, where she lost to Dominika Cibulkova and the Monterrey Open in April, losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
To make matters worse, her French Open preparations took a further knock when she was forced to retire due to injury, during her fourth round match against Eugenie Bouchard of Canada at the Madrid Open.
So fast forward to the French Open and a formidable first round opponent in Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, who although unseeded for this tournament, has already reached two semi-finals of Grand Slam tournaments and is not taken lightly by her opponents. The two had met 11 times before, with Kerber leading the H2H 7-4.
But yesterday, it was all Makarova, who never allowed Kerber to find her feet during their 82 minutes match. The Russian player defeated Kerber 6-2 6-2 and with it, cemented Kerber’s place in the history books by becoming the first Ladies World No. 1 player to lose in the first round of the French Open.
With Serena Williams expecting her first child and Kerber’s form on a downward spiral, the WTA No. 1 ranking is certainly up for grabs. Kerber still leads with 7035 points, Serena second with 6110, but watch out for the next two players who are hot on their heels – Karolina Pliskova with 6100 and Simona Halep with 5790 points each. They will most likely both bump Serena down to the No. 4 spot by the end of the French Open.
As for Kerber, it’s back to the drawing board and a renewed hope that the grass court season may be her lucky charm.