PARIS, Feb 8: French Open champion Li Na retired with a sore back in the second set of her opening match at the Paris Open against Tsvetana Pironkova here on Tuesday.

The third-seeded Li took a medical timeout while trailing 7-6 (5), 3-2 to have her lower back massaged by a physio and played a couple more points before retiring.

“I was feeling my back ... It was so painful,” Li said. “That’s why I called the physio to come to the court. I tried to tape and then tried to play the point, but it didn’t work.

“I’ll go to the hospital to take an MRI to see what happened.”

Li rallied from a 5-0 deficit to force a tiebreaker but she then double-faulted at 3-2 to give Pironkova a mini-break. The unseeded Bulgarian took the first set on a forehand error from Li before jumping out to a 3-1 lead in the second.

“I played last week in the Fed Cup in Israel, I played some good matches which helped for my form and for my confidence,” Pironkova stated. “So I felt pretty good coming here and I’m glad I could show it on the court today against such a world class player.”

Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic, Petra Martic of Croatia and Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa also advanced to the second round along with three German players — Julia Goerges, Angelique Kerber and Mona Barthel.

Goerges cruised past Shahar Peer of Israel 6-1, 6-3.

The sixth-seeded German won nine straight games to take the first set and go 4-0 up in the second.

Kerber beat Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 7-6 (3).

A two-time finalist at this tournament, Safarova served seven double-faults and made numerous unforced errors.Kerber broke Safarova twice in the first set. The US Open semi-finalist then won five straight points to lead 5-1 in the tiebreaker, clinching victory when Safarova’s backhand return sailed long.

Scheepers ousted Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-2, 6-2, Barthel eased past Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2, Cetkovska defeated Italian lucky loser Alberta Brianti 6-3, 6-3, and Martic beat Greta Arn of Hungary, 6-4, 6-4.

Fourth-seeded Jelena Jankovic withdrew on Tuesday because of a left thigh strain she picked up in Serbia’s 3-2 win over Belgium in the Fed Cup last week.

“I was playing against [Kirsten] Flipkens and during one point in the second set, I felt a really sharp pain, but I managed to finish the match,” Jankovic remarked.

Results: First round: Petra Martic (Croatia) bt Greta Arn (Hungary) 6-4, 6-4; Chanelle Scheepers (South Africa) bt Polona Hercog (Slovenia) 6-2, 6-2; 6-Julia Goerges (Germany) bt Shahar Peer (Israel) 6-1, 6-3; 9-Angelique Kerber (Germany) bt Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) 6-2, 7-6(3); Tsvetana Pironkova (Bulgaria) bt 3-Li Na (China) 7-6(5) 3-2 (Li Na retired); Petra Cetkovska (Czech Republic) bt Alberta Brianti (Italy) 6-3, 6-3; Mona Barthel (Germany) bt Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Czech Republic) 6-3, 6-2.—Agencies

Opinion

Law & processions
16 Oct 2021

Law & processions

It is up to the police to impose reasonable conditions on a procession.
Is the party over?
Updated 16 Oct 2021

Is the party over?

Many in PTI are concerned how they can hang on till the next elections.
The last fortress
Updated 16 Oct 2021

The last fortress

The state wants to use the social media rules to trample on the right to freedom of speech.
Reopening under Covid
15 Oct 2021

Reopening under Covid

It will be a challenge to deal with all students returning to classrooms and maintaining SOPs.

Editorial

Diminishing freedom
Updated 16 Oct 2021

Diminishing freedom

DESPITE the serious reservations of digital rights activists and tech companies, the federal government has...
16 Oct 2021

Dirty politics

IN her outburst against Prime Minister Imran Khan this week, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz may not have taken names but...
16 Oct 2021

Decreasing emissions

THE announcement by SAPM on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam that carbon emissions in the country came down by 9pc...
No need for NAB
Updated 15 Oct 2021

No need for NAB

THE National Accountability Bureau has sent instructions to its regional bureaus to stop processing cases that fall...
Forced conversions
Updated 15 Oct 2021

Forced conversions

THE majoritarian view has once again prevailed in the matter of bringing about legislation against forced conversion...
15 Oct 2021

Transgender rights

MEMBERS of the transgender community in the country are often at the receiving end of both their families’ and...