The 2014 iteration of the French Open at Roland Garros has been anything but kind to some of the sport's most recognizable names, providing plenty of upsets in the twilight of the festivities in Paris.
Call it simple bad luck or an extreme showcase of the sport's parity, a season that has been highlighted by erratic performances from the likes of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was seemingly destined for a tumultuous time at Roland Garros.
The opening two rounds, typically met with little fanfare as the favorites roll, provided some of the most shocking upsets in recent memory. Let's take a look at the cream of the crop.
Stan Wawrinka Falls to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0
After upending Djokovic and Nadal in the Australian Open and also reeling in top honors in Monte Carlo, Stan Wawrinka simply succumbed to the pressure of winning a season Slam.
Pegged by many as a surefire favorite in Paris, Wawrinka fell flat in the first round against Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Thanks to no fewer than 62 unforced errors, Wawrinka becomes the first Australian Open champ since Petr Korda in 1998 to go on to lose in the first round of the French Open.
Wawrinka says the loss is a pivotal moment he must learn from, as captured by Sports Illustrated:
The match wasn’t good at all. I was trying to find my game, trying to find to be aggressive, trying to find anything, and I didn’t. It’s a big disappointment for sure. I’m really sad with that loss, but cannot change. I have to accept. I have to see what was wrong, to see what I want to change, the way I want to do it, and now think about the future and not about that match anymore, because I can’t change the result.
If it is any consolation, Wawrinka can take solace in the fact he is far from the only big name to bow out early, and he certainly is not the most notable.
Li Na Shocked by Kristina Mladenovic, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1
The 2011 French Open champ had a rough day at the office in a hostile environment against Kristina Mladenovic, and the end result of the rather lopsided defeat means Li Na made the wrong kind of history, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info:
With Li Na and Stan Wawrinka losing, It's the 1st time both Australian Open champions lost in the first round of the French Open.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 27, 2014
Li was able to keep it competitive in the first set and bounce back for a win in the second, but a complete collapse ended her tournament early. Mladenovic admitted after the match that playing in front of a friendly crowd had an impact on the outcome, per Roland Garros' Twitter account:
As a notable, common theme amongst the biggest losers so far, Li's hiccup was ripe with unforced errors—37 to be exact. Like Wawrinka, Li can rest easy knowing she was not the biggest name to bow out on the women's side.
Venus Williams Stumbles Yet Again, This Time to Anna Schmiedlova, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4
Still a major name in the tennis world, Venus Williams lived up to her recent reputation at major events and was upended by 19-year-old Anna Schmiedlova in Paris.
The loss marks the eighth time in Williams' last nine major tournaments that she has failed to win more than a single match.
So much for that dream matchup with her sister, Serena.
Despite horrific history in major brackets that extends back to 2011, recent successes, including a win in Dubai and a finals appearance in Auckland, suggested Venus had turned a corner and would be in contention this week.
Instead, she wound up with 47 unforced errors and only added to her iffy big-name tournament reputation.
Serena Williams Humbled at Hands of Garbine Muguruza, 6-2, 6-2
It took just 64 minutes for the world's most dominant tennis player to incite an aptly described "apocalypse," as illustrated by Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times:
Monday: No3 Stan Wawrinka loses Tuesday: No2 Li Na loses Wednesday: No1 Serena Wawrinka loses. Counting down to a tennis apocalypse. #RG14— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 28, 2014
Entering just her second French Open with an 0-5 record against the top five, a 3-8 mark against the top 10 and a lone meeting with Serena in the past that was an ugly 6-2, 6-0 loss back in 2013, Muguruza was the dominant one throughout on her way to 12 winners and 18 unforced errors.
A humbled Williams took to Twitter to offer her thoughts on the match:
Congrats 2 my opponent today. She did her thing. I'm proud of her. I wish her well. Until next time. There's always tomm & I will be ready.— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) May 28, 2014
All things considered, it was quite the horrific day for the Williams sisters, a duo many thought would throw down in the third round of the proceedings in Paris:
The last time both Serena and Venus Williams lost on the same day at a Grand Slam event was in 2011 in the Wimbledon Round of 16.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 28, 2014
It was admittedly quite strange to watch Williams thoroughly abused in quite a short amount of time, but it seems only fitting for the overarching theme of the season to this point.
Paired with Li's loss, the defeat marks the first time in the Open era that the top two seeds in the women's bracket have been defeated before the third round.
Perhaps we should talk more about parity after all.