Paris, May 28 (IANS): China's Zhang Shuai is yet to claim a singles victory on clay this season, as the 34-year-old veteran suffered a third consecutive first-round exit after being knocked out by Poland's Magdalena Frech 6-1, 6-1 on the opening day of the French Open.
The 29th seed Zhang, who reached the round of 16 at Roland Garros in 2020, committed seven double faults against zero from her opponent. Although Zhang saved two match points in the sixth game of the second set when Frech was serving for victory, she was unable to hold her own serve in the following game as No.88 Frech wrapped up the victory with her fourth break in the second set, also her sixth of the match, reports Xinhua.
"I was not in my best physical condition, but I could already train as usual. I felt a pain in my throat through the match, so I hope I can get better in the doubles match," said Zhang, who will partner with French local and former doubles world No.1 Kristina Mladenovic in the women's doubles.
Another seeded Chinese player, Zheng Qinwen, who made a remarkable run in Paris last year by reaching the fourth round, will play against Slovenian qualifier Tamara Zidansek later on Sunday.
Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus kicked off her clay-court major with a winning start, coming from an early break to defeat Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine 6-3, 6-2 in the opening match on the Philippe Chatrier court.
This result extends Sabalenka's 2023 record to 30-5. She has reached at least the quarterfinals at seven of the eight tournaments she has contested before Roland Garros and the final in five of them.
The second seed will next face qualifier Iryna Shymanovich, who celebrated her Grand Slam main-draw debut with a 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1 win over Panna Udvardy.