Top ranked South African Chanelle Scheepers celebrated a career-high move up the WTA rankings with a first round victory in the French Open tennis tournament in Paris on Monday, writes Mark Etheridge.
Scheepers started the week by moving two spots up to 65th spot but had a battle on her hands to progress into the second round. She came up against the lowly ranked Ukraine player, Viktoriya Kutuzova.
On Sunday 22-year-old Kutuzova was ranked 976th in the world but when Monday’s rankings were released she’d shot up 110 positions to start the tournament ranked 866th.
And she gave Scheepers a run for her moneyÔÇª the Harrismith born South African only prevailing after a struggle of 2hr 20min. She dropped the second set 4-6 before going on to win in three sets, 6-3 4-6 6-2.
In the first service percentage stakes Scheepers was outgunned 83% to 62% but it was in the winning percentage on her first service (59% compared to Kutuzova’s 46%) that the difference showed. Scheepers converted 10 of her 18 break point opportunities with Kutuzova managing to win seven of 19.
The reward for Scheepers is a tough second round match-up against Russia’s Maria Kirilenko. Seeded 25th for the tournament and 27th in the world, the 24-year-old Russian beat American Coco Vandeweghe in straight sets 7-6 ((5) 6-2 on Monday.
But Scheepers, our only woman in the main draw of the year’s second Grand Slam event, will march on to red clay of Roland Garros with more than a little confidence, having beaten Kirilenko in straight sets in Dubai earlier this year, albeit on a hard-court surface.
In the men’s draw our top-ranked singles exponent, Kevin Anderson, is scheduled to play Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in a first round match on Tuesday.