Katarina Zavatska has been eliminated from the French Open by fifth seed Kiki Bertens after she crumbled in the third set after reportedly being forced to use an unfamiliar racket after suffering numerous equipment malfunctions.
The 20-year-old Zavatska set herself up for what would have been a momentous upset at Roland Garros, appearing to be in inspired form and winning the first set against Bertens by a score of 6-2.
Bertens, who has been suffering from Achilles trouble in recent matches, rallied in the second with her own score of 6-2 but ahead of the deciding third set Zavatska was forced to use an unfamiliar racquet after she broke numerous strings – eventually running out of racquets entirely.
Zavatska is in tears as all her racquets have their strings broken. #RG20pic.twitter.com/pu0O97Nmy2
Zavatska’s coach soon came to the rescue, supplying his player with a new racket of his own but this one – which was made by the Babolat brand and not Yonex – was unfamiliar, leading to Bertens’ 6-0 whitewash in the decider.
Slightly bizarre and unfortunate scenes on Lenglen. Katarina Zavatska, who was playing a really good match against Kiki Bertens, broke numerous strings and ran out of racquets. Her coach then seemed to give her one of his (babolat not yonex). She lost the decider 6-0. #RG20pic.twitter.com/H5ZjWYT04M
When you camouflage with the clay 🧡Stealth from @kikibertens at the net. #RolandGarrospic.twitter.com/ZUc6uATaPs
“It was really tough,” Bertens conceded afterwards. “She started really well and I was rushing a bit. It’s really tough to play aggressive here and to hit winners. In the second and third set I was much more patient.
“It was tough to move,” she added, confirming that the Achilles injury which caused her retirement from her previous match in Strasbourg was still bothering her.
“My legs weren’t moving at all in the first set.”
Zavatska, meanwhile, showed no sign of being overawed by the occasion as she raced out of the blocks early despite just making her Grand Slam debut in the US Open last month.
She was aggressive at the net where she showed off an excellent touch on the way to her first set win, with Bertens being uncharacteristically error-prone in the opening exchanges.
The Dutch player soon found her rhythm and by the time that Zavatska experienced her series of racquet mishaps, it was clear that the initiative had swung. Bertens’ experience (and a now functioning serve) proved too much for the plucky Zavatska – but the Ukrainian will certainly be heartened by the manner in which she was able to flummox her vastly more experienced opponent in the opening set.