Sunday in Paris, Ekaterina Makarova (pictured) upset defending US Open champion Angelique Kerber, sending the top seed tumbling out of the 2017 French Open on Day 1.
It was a return to form for Makarova, the former world No. 8 and 2014 US Open semifinalist who entered Roland Garros as one of the most dangerous floaters in the draw, and a tough loss for Kerber, who also lost in the opening round of the French Open a year ago before bouncing back to reach the Wimbledon final and win the title in Flushing Meadows.
Kerber was the first women's top seed to lose in the first round of the French Open, something that has never occurred at the US Open since the dawn of the Open era in 1968. The top men’s seed has lost in Round 1 in Flushing Meadows on two occasions – in 1971, when John Newcombe lost to Jan Kodes, and 1990, when Stefan Edberg fell to Alexander Volkov.
In fact, the top women’s seed at the US Open has failed to make the quarterfinals on just four occasions in the Open era, with the earliest exit from the main draw coming in 2008, when Ana Ivanovic lost to Julie Coin in the second round.
The most recent occurrence of a top seed losing early came in 2009, when Petra Kvitova ousted Dinara Safina in the third round. Coincidentally, Kvitova won her first-round encounter at the French Open Sunday in her first match since suffering stab wounds to her left (playing) hand during an attempted break-in in late December.
Here’s a closer look at the earliest exits by No. 1 seeds at the US Open in the Open era:
2009 – Dinara Safina lost to Petra Kvitova in the third round, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6
2008 – Ana Ivanovic lost to Julie Coin in the second round, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
2004 – Justine Henin lost to Nadia Petrova in the fourth round, 6-3, 6-2
1973 – Billie Jean King lost to Julie Heldman in the third round, 3-6, 6-4, 4-1, ret.