Russian teen Potapova ends ‘idol’ Kerber Grand Slam bid

Agence France-Presse
Russian teen Potapova ends ‘idol’ Kerber Grand Slam bid
Playing in the main draw of the tournament for the first time in her young career, the 18-year-old claims her first-ever victory over a top-10 player

PARIS, France – Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova said she was left “speechless” after knocking out her “idol” Angelique Kerber in the first round of the French Open on Sunday, May 26.

The 18-year-old made short work of the 5th seed and reigning Wimbledon champion, who was bidding to complete a career Grand Slam at Roland Garros, winning 6-4, 6-2.

Playing in the main draw of the tournament for the first time in her young career, Potapova claimed her first-ever victory over a top-10 player.

She set up a second-round tie against either fellow teenager Marketa Vondrousova or China’s Wang Yafan.

“I was just speechless,” she said. “I didn’t know what to say and what to do, but, yes, I was so happy at that moment, and I’m still so happy.”

“I live for this win, for these emotions, for these moments. I’m going to do everything to live it through again and again and again.”

Potapova hammered 28 winners past the flailing Kerber, who had been struggling with a right ankle injury in the build-up to the event.

The Russian said she had looked up to Kerber, 13 years her senior, as a child.

“I was really looking forward for this match, because Kerber, I like her very much. She’s actually one of my idols, and when I was young I was looking for her game, how she’s playing,” said Potapova.

“When you step in on the court and you know you play your, I would say, idol, you’ve just got to show your best. That helped me. So, yeah, I was fighting for every point.”

Potapova, the 2016 junior Wimbledon champion, is one of several teenagers making their presence felt on the WTA Tour this year.

Czech Vondrousova claimed a surprise win over reigning French Open champion Simona Halep last week in Rome, while 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova reached the Australian Open last 16. 

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu was a shock title winner at Indian Wells.

Potapova admitted that the attention that comes with winning such a big match on Court Philippe Chatrier was something new.

“My phone is exploding right now, you know, social media, anything, WhatsApp, the messengers.”

The draw could open up nicely for Potapova, too, with 28th seed Carla Suarez Navarro the highest-ranked player she can face before the fourth round. –


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