Svitolina out as seed exodus continues at French Open

PARIS (Agencies): Elina Svitolina became the seventh top-10 seed to be knocked out in the French Open’s opening week as she fell in the third round to Barbora Krejcikova.

Fifth seed Svitolina’s serve was broken six times as she was outclassed 6-3 6-2 by the impressive unseeded Czech. The Ukrainian follows Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova, Aryna Sabalenka, Belinda Bencic and Bianca Andreescu out of Roland Garros.

Fourth seed Sofia Kenin came from a set down to beat compatriot Jessica Pagula. American Kenin, the 2020 runner-up and highest seed remaining in the tournament, looked in danger of joining the casualty list when she lost the opening set from 3-0 up by surrendering three successive service games. But her aggressive approach ultimately paid off against a more passive Pagula as Kenin hit 48 winners to triumph 4-6 6-1 6-4 in a mixed display that also featured 41 unforced errors and 10 double faults.

She is one of just three top-10 seeds left standing, along with Serena Williams, who reached the fourth round on Friday, and defending champion Iga Swiatek, who plays her third-round match, against Estonian 30th seed Anett Kontaveit, later on Saturday. Krejcikova, until recently a doubles specialist with two Grand Slam titles to her name in that format, produced arguably the performance of the round in her victory over Svitolina, 26.

The 25-year-old, who won her maiden singles title in Strasbourg last month, never looked back after holding her serve in a mammoth 21-minute game at 4-3 up in the first set, breaking Svitolina in each game either side. She next faces former US Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens in the last 16 after the unseeded American beat 18th seed Karolina Muchova 6-3 7-5. Both players struggled for accuracy throughout, Stephens hitting 25 unforced errors and Muchova 32, but the 28-year-old American broke serve early in the first set and, crucially, at 5-5 in the second, to progress.