40 LOVE Moments: Sánchez Lorenzo Stunner
Published May 28, 2013 12:00
PARIS, France - Maria Sharapova cruised through the first match of her title defense on Monday but eight years ago her fellow Russian, Anastasia Myskina, had a much different experience in the first match of her title defense, losing to Spain's María Sánchez Lorenzo - a dubiously historic result.
A year earlier at the 2004 French Open, Myskina - who had already become Russia's first ever Top 5 player - made even more history for Russia, bringing home the country's first Grand Slam title with wins over Venus Williams, Jennifer Capriati and compatriot Elena Dementieva in the last three rounds.
Myskina would make it as high as No.2 in the world later that year, trailing only Amélie Mauresmo.
Myskina seemed ripe for the picking, and Sánchez Lorenzo had already pushed her to three sets in their only previous meeting. This time she pushed her again, all the way to the sidelines in fact - she ran away with it in the end, 64 46 60, an historic win as Myskina became the first French Open champion in the history of the tournament to lose in the first match of her title defense the next year.
It was one of only four times in the Open Era where the defending champion at a Grand Slam lost first round the next year, after Steffi Graf (who lost in the first round of Wimbledon in 1994 to Lori McNeil), Jennifer Capriati (who lost in the first round of the 2003 Australian Open to Marlene Weingärtner) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (who lost in the first round of the 2005 US Open to Ekaterina Bychkova).
Sánchez Lorenzo's win was no fluke, though. The Spaniard, who hit with two hands off both sides, had beaten Top 10 players three times before - Conchita Martínez, Jana Novotna and Sandrine Testud. And her win over Novotna also came at a Grand Slam, in the early rounds of the 1999 Australian Open.
And the loss didn't spell the end for Myskina at all - she reached another five WTA finals over the next few years, winning one more title, and reached two more Grand Slam quarterfinals at Wimbledon.