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Paris – Defending champion and world number one Serena Williams was knocked out of the French Open by Spain’s Garbine Muguruza on Wednesday as the American star stumbled to her second worst Grand Slam defeat.
The top seed lost 6-2, 6-2 in the second round to the world number 35 with her defeat coming just an hour after sister Venus also went out, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Slovak teenager Anna Schmiedlova.
It was the earliest exit for a defending champion at Roland Garros since 2005 when Anastasia Myskina of Russia went out in the first round.
With Li Na losing in the first round on Tuesday, Serena’s defeat marks the first time in the Open Era that the top two seeds had failed to get to the third round at a major.
Wednesday’s defeat was Serena’s worst at a Grand Slam in terms of games won and was only the second time she had been beaten at a major in the round of 64.
The last time that happened was on her debut at the 1998 Australian Open.
“Nothing worked today,” said 17-time major winner Serena who hit just eight winners and a huge 29 unforced errors with five double faults.
“I just couldn’t serve. But you can’t be on form every day. I hate to be off at a Grand Slam but it happens, it’s not the end of the world.
“I will have to work five times as hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” added the 32-year-old American who suffered her only Grand Slam first round loss in Paris in 2012.
Muguruza, 20, immediately won praise for her performance.
“Shocker at the French – Serena loses to Garbine Muguruza. Garbine is here to stay, that’s for sure, quite a talent,” tweeted Martina Navratilova.
The young Spaniard was over-joyed by her performance.
“Today’s a great day,” she said. “I really didn’t expect that but I’m really happy. I had to be aggressive and I did it well.”
Serena’s defeat was good news for Maria Sharapova who is now the overwhelming title favourite with second seed Li losing 24 hours earlier.
The Williams sisters had been scheduled to meet in the third round but their back-to-back exits represented just the fourth time they had lost on the same day at a major.
Instead the tournament will get Muguruza against Schmiedlova, the 19-year-old Slovak who ended 32-year-old Venus's 17th French Open with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.
Schmiedlova was just a month old when the American made her professional debut back in 1994.
“It’s the biggest win of my career,” said world number 56 Schmiedlova who had lost to Venus in straight sets in Miami this season.
“I have big respect for her. She’s a great player and I still cannot believe I won.”
Defeat for Venus, the 29th seed, meant she has now failed to get beyond the second round in Paris on her last three visits.
She was undone by 47 unforced errors on a half-full Philippe Chatrier court and despite saving two match points it was all too much for mother Oracene who was caught on TV napping as Venus slipped to defeat.
“I think she’s very good already, and she’s going to be even better as she continues to play. I see wonderful things for her,” said Venus of her opponent.
Second seed Novak Djokovic, the 2012 runner-up who needs a French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, restored order to the tournament with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over Jeremy Chardy of France to reach the last 32.
Djokovic took his record over the world number 42 to 9-0.
Roger Federer reached the French Open third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Argentine qualifier Diego Sebastian Schwartzman. It was Federer’s 60th win at Roland Garros as he goes on to face Russian 31st seed Dmitry Tursunov for a place in the last 16.
He will be desperate to avoid the fate of fellow Swiss, Stan Wawrinka, the third seed and Australian Open champion who lost in the first round.
Maria Sharapova, the seventh seeded 2012 champion, faces Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2010.
Latvian 18th seed Ernests Gulbis eased past Argentine qualifier Facundo Bagnis 6-2, 7-5, 6-0 and will next face Czech veteran Radek Stepanek who knocked out Russian 15th seed Mikhail Youzhny 6-0, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
Italian women's 12th seed Flavia Pennetta was knocked out by Sweden’s Johanna Larsson who now faces 18th seed Eugenie Bouchard.
The highly-rated 20-year-old Canadian, who made the Australian Open semi-finals this year and captured her first title in Nuremberg at the weekend, put out Germany’s Julia Goerges 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. – Sapa-AFP