PARIS (Reuters) – Angelique Kerber could face an embarrassing first-round exit at the French Open if the world number one takes her poor claycourt form into her first round match against Russian Ekaterina Makarova on Sunday.
The German failed to win a match in her last tournament — falling to unheralded Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit in the second round in Rome after being granted a first-round bye.
Makarova is likely to provide Kerber with a tough challenge on a searing hot day on Court Philippe Chatrier as she arrived at Roland Garros high on confidence, having beaten Agnieszka Radwanska and Dominika Cibulkova on the slow surface this year.
Petra Kvitova makes a much awaited return after being forced out of action because of injuries sustained to her left playing hand when she was stabbed during a burglary last December.
None of the top five seeds in the men’s draw are in action but the only man to beat claycourt machine Rafa Nadal on his favorite surface this season, Austrian Dominic Thiem, starts his campaign against Bernard Tomic on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
The home crowd will be treated with an all-French duel between Lucas Pouille, the 16th seed, and Julien Benneteau, a former quarter-finalist.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot, editing by Pritha Sarkar)