Unseeded players score upsets in French Open

UPSET. Unseeded Peyton Stearns stunned No. 10 seed Daria Kastkina, 7-5, 6-2, in the first round of the French Open. / AP

PARIS — Good thing the French tennis federation installed artificial lights on every court at Roland Garros in 2021, because they sure did come in handy Thursday, allowing match after match to stretch deep into the night, including one particular result that stood out: unseeded American Peyton Stearns’ elimination of No. 10 Daria Kasatkina.

All of the waiting around all day to get on court did not disrupt Stearns one bit, and the 22-year-old from Cincinnati, who won an NCAA singles title at the University of Texas, used 17 forehand winners through the cold, damp and slow conditions to defeat Kasatkina 7-5, 6-2 in a match that didn’t start until after 9 p.m. and didn’t finish until after 10:30 p.m.

“You just kind of don’t know what to expect,” the 62nd-ranked Stearns said about waiting to get on court as showers created a start-stop-start scheduling fiasco all around the grounds. “You have to accept that.”

How did she prepare to finally get started?

“I had a single expresso before I went out there,” she said with a smile. “So it was like morning for me.”

Kasatkina had a harder time with the situation.

“Mentally, it’s tough to face the day when it’s a long wait,” said Kasatkina, a 2022 semifinalist at the French Open. “You have to be calm, but at the same time, you have to be ready to jump on the court. And you don’t know when.”

The last of the long day’s 55 matches didn’t wrap up until just about 1 a.m., when 17-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva finally got through a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win against No. 19 seed Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion who is 34.

Andreeva next faces Stearns, with the winner reaching the fourth round in Paris for the first time.

Other seeded women sent home included No. 9 Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 champion in Paris, who lost to Denmark’s Clara Tauson 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3; No. 11 Danielle Collins, defeated by Serbian qualifier Olga Danilovic 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-4; No. 18 Marta Kostyuk, who was beaten 7-5, 6-4 by Donna Vekic; and No. 23 Anna Kalinskaya, eliminated 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 by oft-injured 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu.

Men’s seeds who bowed out included No. 25 Frances Tiafoe and No. 31 Mariano Navone. A frosty handshake came when Tiafoe and Denis Shapovalov — who are friends — met at the net after Shapovalov’s 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win. That’s because Tiafoe sent a tennis ball off the side of Shapovalov’s head with one on-the-run shot. / AP


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