Johanna Konta falls at first hurdle in Paris for third year running

Johanna Konta suffered more pain in Paris after another first-round exit at the French Open.

The British No 1 has still to win a main draw match at Roland Garros after bowing out meekly to Yulia Putintseva, the world No 93.

It was another hugely disappointing performance by Konta, who pre-tournament had insisted she has the game to be a success on clay. An unforced error count of 32 suggested otherwise as Putintseva ran out a comfortable 6-4, 6-3 winner.

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The 23-year-old from Kazakhstan joins the similarly unheralded Julia Gorges and, from last year, the then world No 109 Hsieh Su-wei in sending Konta crashing at the first hurdle.

Putintseva can be a feisty, chuntering player who gets under her opponent’s skin, but she did not need to resort to any such antics to knock Konta out of her stride.

Konta had won the first ten points on her own serve, albeit while getting little change from Putintseva’s.

But having fended off break points at 3-3, Konta’s serve then failed her twice to gift Putintseva the first set.

Breaks were shared at the start of the second but that was as good as it got for Konta.

When she failed to put away a routine smash and two shots later saw the ball flash past her for a crucial break at 3-1, she knew her Paris hopes were all but over for another year.

Putintseva duly served out for the match to condemn Konta to another early departure.

Jelena Ostapenko’s reign as French Open champion also ended in the first round. The Latvian, unseeded when she claimed her shock triumph last year, was beaten in straight sets by Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova.

Ostapenko, seeded five, looked a shadow of the player on Court Philippe Chatrier where she shone so brightly 12 months ago, hitting 13 double faults amid 48 unforced errors to tumble out 7-5, 6-3 to the world No 66.

Venus Williams was also sent spinning out on the opening Sunday. The ninth seed, runner-up in 2002, was beaten 6-4, 7-5 by Wang Qiang of China on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Wang, ranked 85, had lost to Williams in the first round in Paris last year and also at Wimbledon a few weeks later, but gained revenge in spectacular style with a first victory over the seven-time grand slam winner for the biggest win of her career.

“I think she just played well,” said Williams, left. “I mean, all the times we’ve played, she’s played great. I think her game just got better and better during the match.”

Fourth seed Elina Svitolina recovered from 5-1 down, saving a set point, to blow away Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia 7-5, 6-3.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens was clearly in a hurry, dropping only two games in a 6-2, 6-0 win over Arantxa Rus of Holland.