Which is more surprising on the women’s side right now, a day filled with upsets or a day devoid of them? It has been a season of WTA surprises so far in 2016, and the early going at the French Open seemed to promise many more. No one was safe: On Tuesday, the tour’s biggest success stories of this year, No. 3 seed Angelique Kerber and No. 5 seed Victoria Azarenka, were eliminated in the first round.
Looking down the schedule at the start of play on Wednesday, I expected to see more of the same. Simona Halep, Garbiñe Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka Radwanska: Yes, they were all Top 12 players, but did we expect all of them to win?
In perhaps the biggest stunner of the tournament thus far, each of them held her ground with a routine, straight-set victory, and each looked a little more like a contender in the process. For the moment, order has been restored, and the bottom half of the women’s draw no longer looks quite so wide open.
Just when it seemed as if the drama would have to wait for another day, though, eyes began to turn toward little Court 2. There, the last match of the afternoon, a semi-obscure contest between 25th seed Irina-Camelia Begu and unseeded CoCo Vandeweghe, had taken center stage.
The 25-year-old Romanian and the 24-year-old American had never played, but they were getting to know each other and their games quite well. Vandeweghe won the first set in a tiebreaker, Begu won the second in another tiebreaker, and, with no third-set breaker available to settle it, they threw haymakers at each other long after the bell had rung, to the delight of the fans who wedged themselves into Court 2’s tiny set of bleachers.