| Argentine Guillermo Coria in action against compatriot Juan Monaco at Roland Garros on Wednesday. Coria moved into the third round with a 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 victory. (Reuters)
Paris: A sluggish and pale Justine Henin-Hardenne had her French Open title ripped from her grasp on Wednesday as the Belgian suffered the earliest defeat of a women’s top seed in the Grand Slam’s history.
Never before since the women’s event first welcomed international entrants in 1925 had a top seed lost before the third round but, under grey Parisian skies, last year’s champion slumped 5-7, 4-6 to little-known Italian Tathiana Garbin.
In the men’s draw, second seed Andy Roddick slumped to a five-set defeat by Frenchman Olivier Mutis. The world No. 125 won 3-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 as the US Open champion found himself outplayed under darkening skies.
Henin-Hardenne’s loss was the shock of the tournament so far and a result that will leave a major question mark over the Belgian’s health. She had not played a tournament since early April, having suffered a viral infection.
Argentine Guillermo Coria continued his cull of compatriots while another tournament favourite, Carlos Moya, put friendship on hold to score a bittersweet second round win.
Coria’s 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Juan Monaco was his 23rd win over a fellow-Argentine in 25 meetings, while Moya’s 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 destruction of Fernando Vicente was his 11th straight win over his friend.
Sloppy and undisciplined on Court Suzanne Lenglen, Henin-Hardenne blazed 30 unforced errors in the one-hour and 58-minute match.
World No. 86 Garbin should by rights have been out-classed by the player who had won three of the last four Grand Slam tournaments, but in reality the Italian looked the better player throughout.
Henin-Hardenne had not played a tournament since Amelia Island in the second week of April. On Wednesday she seemed to lack energy.
She hit ten doubles faults and lost her serve six times. All Garbin had to do was move her around and wait for the error — a task that was not beyond her as she recorded the best win of an undistinguished career.
“I never played like this before,” she beamed courtside. “I am so happy... I mean, she is world No. 1... this is incredible.”
“It was probably too soon to come back but I had to return one day,” said the 21-year-old Henin-Hardenne. “I have no regrets over my decision. I just need more time to get back to 100 percent. I have come back in the past and I will do it again. That’s life, these things happen.”
Third seed Amelie Mauresmo suffered jitters but overcame a mid-match stutter to beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-0, 4-6, 6-1.
Fifth seed Moya had been barely able to look his friend Vicente in the eye throughout their one-sided clash on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Monaco was playing his first Grand Slam event but showed no sign of nerves, taking an early lead in the opening set before Coria overhauled him.
Thailand’s Paradorn Srichaphan, seeded 13, went out 4-6, 5-7, 3-6 to Alex Corretja of Spain, twice a runner-up here.
Britain’s Tim Henman, seeded nine, also made the third round beating Germany’s Lars Burgsmuller 6-0, 6-3, 6-3.