Prodigy who 'disappeared' creates history in boilover

1 month ago

Grand Slam losses by high-ranked, well-known and accomplished players to, well, lower-ranked, lesser-known and less-accomplished opponents connection a uncommon accidental for those unheralded winners to bask the spotlight.

And for the archetypal clip successful astir a half-century, conscionable 3 of the apical 10 seeds successful the women's gully astatine Roland-Garros made it to the circular of 32.

So conscionable Leolia Jeanjean: property 26; from Montpellier, France; ranked 227th; a wildcard introduction aft ne'er earlier being a Slam participant; seemingly destined arsenic a kid for large things successful tennis, truthful overmuch truthful that determination were sponsorship deals earlier she was aged capable to be precocious school, until, that is, an injured genu derailed things.

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She near the athletics for a mates of years, coiled up moving to the US, wherever she played assemblage tennis astatine Baylor, past Arkansas, past Lynn University successful Boca Raton, Florida, portion pursuing her studies successful finance. At Lynn, she went unbeaten successful singles and doubles, truthful it occurred to her possibly a nonrecreational vocation was worthy a try.

Leolia Jeanjean of France successful enactment against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic successful her 2nd circular lucifer connected Day 5 astatine Roland Garros connected May 26, 2022 successful Paris, France (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images) (Getty)

Good prime for Jeanjean. Bad 1 for her foes truthful acold astatine Roland Garros, including Karolina Pliskova, a two-time large finalist and the No.8 seed, who was incapable to connection overmuch absorption Thursday and was beaten 6-2, 6-2 by Jeanjean successful the 2nd round.

“Even me, I don’t person an explanation. I don’t adjacent realise what’s happening,” Jeanjean said. “It’s my archetypal Grand Slam. I thought I would person mislaid successful the archetypal circular successful 2 sets — and I recovered myself beating a top-10 player. So, honestly, I person thing other to say. I don’t truly cognize however it’s possible.”

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A twelvemonth agone astatine this time, she was ranked extracurricular the apical 800 and winning hundreds of dollars astatine low-level International Tennis Federation events. No substance what happens successful her adjacent match, she'll permission Paris with astatine slightest $190,000 (AUD).

“When I stopped playing erstwhile I was young, I conscionable wanted to springiness myself different chance,” Jeanjean said. “Because successful my head, since I was bully erstwhile I was similar 14, 15, I’m like, ‘Why can’t I beryllium bully 10 years later?’ So that’s why, yeah, I (took a) chance. And truthful acold it’s working.”

Asked whether helium besides was stunned by it all, Jeanjean's manager of 3 months, Thomas Delgado, rapidly replied, straight-faced: “No.” And past helium chuckled, earlier continuing: “Well, yes, I am. ... On 1 side, I'm amazed she did it. But connected the other, I knew she could.”

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No.9 Danielle Collins, the Australian Open runner-up successful January, departed, too, eliminated by 50th-ranked Shelby Rogers 6-4, 6-3 successful a matchup betwixt Americans.

According to the WTA, the erstwhile clip 3 oregon less top-10 women's seeds got to the French Open's circular of 32 was successful 1976; successful those days, lone 8 players were seeded to statesman with successful a tract of 64, fractional of the existent tourney size.

Pliskova and Collins joined No.2 Barbora Krejcikova — the 2021 champion who was beaten successful the archetypal round, past pulled retired of doubles, due to the fact that she tested affirmative for COVID-19 — No.4 Maria Sakkari, No.5 Anett Kontaveit, No.6 Ons Jabeur and No.10 Garbiñe Muguruza, who each were gone by Thursday (AEST).

The remaining trio, each successful the apical fractional of the bracket, won second-round matches: No.1 Iga Swiatek ran her winning streak to 30 matches, the longest successful women's tennis since Serena Williams had a 34-match tally successful 2013, by overwhelming Alison Riske 6-0, 6-2; No.3 Paula Badosa recovered from a mid-match lapse to get past Kaja Juvan 7-5, 3-6, 6-2; No.7 Aryna Sabalenka defeated Madison Brengle 6-1, 6-3.

“I could consciousness like, ‘Wow, this is good, due to the fact that they are losing.’ But successful this case, I’m much like, ‘OK, wage attention, due to the fact that thing tin happen,’” said Badosa, a quarterfinalist successful Paris a twelvemonth ago. “You saw it today.”

The men's gully surely has seen immoderate excitement — including five-set victories aft being lucifer constituent down for some No.3 Alexander Zverev and No.6 Carlos Alcaraz — but each 12 of the highest seeds precocious to the 3rd round, the archetypal clip that's happened astatine the French Open since 2009, according to the ATP.

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No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas, the runner-up to Novak Djokovic astatine Roland-Garros past year, saved 4 acceptable points aft falling down 6-2 successful the past tiebreaker earlier putting distant 134th-ranked qualifier Zdenek Kolar 6-3, 7-6 (8), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (6) successful a 4-hour, 6-minute tussle.

Kolar ne'er had won a tour-level lucifer until this week, but his relentless ball-tracking near Tsitsipas acknowledging astatine the end: “He drove maine crazy. Yeah, it was truly frustrating. ... Not easy. Not easy.”

Pliskova has been ranked No.1, was the runner-up astatine Wimbledon past twelvemonth and the US Open successful 2016 and reached the Roland Garros semifinals successful 2017.

“One happening is, of course, however I played,” Pliskova said, “and I deliberation (the) different happening is however she played.”

Jeanjean trailed 2-1 earlier collecting 9 consecutive games, displaying immoderate of the strategical smarts that Delgado praised arsenic 1 of her top attributes, saying: “She knows wherever to play, however to play, erstwhile to play.”

Always has. Caroline Garcia, a French subordinate who utilized to beryllium ranked No.4, knew Jeanjean mode backmost when. They were doubles teammates astatine a bid of younker events successful Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela and Italy successful 2010, erstwhile Garcia was 16 and Jeanjean was 14.

“She was similar the champion of the champion erstwhile she was 10, 12, and everyone thought she was going to beryllium unbelievable. And past she wholly disappeared. ... Now, she makes her mode again,” Garcia said, “and she tin beryllium to everyone, like, if you judge it, you tin bash it.”

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The highs, lows and controversies of Roland-Garros 2022