France’s Gracheva upsets Sakkari; Haddad Maia loses Roland Garros opener

No.88 Varvara Gracheva engineered the biggest upset of the first two days at Roland Garros, coming from a set down to defeat No.6 seed Maria Sakkari 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the first round on Monday evening. 

Then, to close out a dramatic Day 2 in Paris, Italy’s 51st-ranked Elisabetta Cocciaretto knocked out 2023 semifinalist and 13th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil, winning 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Sakkari is the first Top 10 seed to fall through the first two days of the tournament. No.1 Iga Swiatek and No.3 Coco Gauff rolled in their opening wins on Monday.

Reigning Wimbledon champion and No.5 seed Marketa Vondrousova dropped just four games in her opening win over Rebeka Masarova, winning 6-1, 6-3. She will face Katie Volynets in the second round. 

Born in Moscow, Gracheva became a French citizen in 2023. With the support of the vocal and partisan crowd on Court Simonne-Mathieu, the 23-year-old gave her adopted nation a big reason to cheer after battling back to earn the fourth Top 10 win of her career and first of the season. 

Gracheva reached a career-high ranking at No.39 in January. But as she prepared to play her first Roland Garros as a French national, Gracheva was mired in a middling season. During the spring hard-court season, she was stuck in a seven-match losing streak, which she finally snapped on the green clay at Charleston.

Anatomy of an upset: Sakkari came into the match having won all four sets the two had previously played, including a 6-2, 6-2 win a few weeks ago in Rome. She quickly added a fifth to that tally, breaking Gracheva three times in the first set and looked on her way to avoiding a fourth first-round exit at a Slam in her last five appearances.

But despite her continued return pressure on Gracheva, Sakkari managed to break serve just once for the remainder of the match. In total, the Greek star was 4 for 15 on break-point opportunities. In contrast, Gracheva was an efficient five out of six.  

After breaking Sakkari for a 3-1 lead in the second set, Gracheva held off five break points in the next game to consolidate her lead. She broke Sakkari again to close out the second set and force a third and rode that momentum through a perfect final frame. 

Up next: Gracheva will face Bernarda Pera in the second round. She is bidding to make the third round in Paris for the third time in her career. 

Cocciaretto will face Cristina Bucsa.

The first round is now completed for the top half of the draw, which saw four seeds take opening-round losses: Haddad Maia, No.16 Ekaterina Alexandrova, No.24 Barbora Krejcikova and No.29 Veronika Kudermetova. 


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