PARIS (Reuters) - American Taylor Townsend’s “amazing week” in Paris ended in defeat on Friday when she was knocked out of the French Open by Carla Suarez Navarro.
Townsend, 18, was the youngest player since 2009 to reach the last 32 in Paris and, after a slow start, she went out all guns blazing against the 14th seed from Spain who won 6-2 6-2 in just over an hour.
“It’s the most fun I’ve had. I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Townsend told reporters.
“I really learned a lot this week. I’m so happy and fortunate I had this opportunity.
“I have a lot of weapons, and I have a lot of gifts and talents that not many people have, that I have to believe in.” Mats Wilander, the former No.1 and three-times French Open champion, praised Townsend to the skies in a French newspaper column on Friday, even comparing her court instincts to those possessed by Roger Federer and John McEnroe.
Against Suarez Navarro, a claycourt specialist, she worked the angles and hit the ball cleanly.
But she wasted a lot of the good work by shooting for the lines – and often missing – when playing the percentages would have earned the point. She made 33 unforced errors to her opponent’s seven.
Sanchez Navarro called Townsend’s style “a bit anarchical” but agreed the American was very talented, saying her forehand and serve made her particularly difficult to play.
Townsend took time to settle, losing her first two service games to go 4-0 down to the claycourt specialist who won the Estoril title last month. Townsend broke back for 4-2. But the Roland Garros wildcard fired wide and long, and netted a volley to give her opponent set point before hitting a return of serve long to go one set down after 24 minutes.
The American wasted four break points in the fourth game of the second set by not playing it safe and was broken to love in the next game. Suarez Navarro’s first serve was the match’s most potent weapon and Townsend returned serve long to give the Spaniard victory her third match point.
But her experience has convinced Townsend that she made the right decision to turn professional.
“I realised that I do like big stages, I like big courts, I like playing in front of a lot of people,” she said.
“It means the world for me to be here, and to have this opportunity and capitalise on it, and I’m looking forward to it continuing in the future, and hopefully I can keep this going.”
Editing by Ed Osmond