After a dominant first set, the 30-year-old Tunisian missed chances to break Linette in the second, something she had complained about when the world No. 52 produced a 40-0 comeback in the final match to stun Jabeur on Sunday.
Jabeur was known for her ability to strike back in the face of adversity, but lamented Linette’s ability to choke her options in defeat at Court Philippe-Chatrier, the grand slam’s main stadium opening game.
“I wanted to go as far as I could in the tournament because I played well on clay in Madrid and in Rome and it’s hard to get that in. But that’s sport and you have to be smart enough to move forward and go back to court.”
Linette produced a complete performance to beat the Tunisian, one of the favorites for the French Open title after her impressive streak of form recently.
Jabeur has won 17 matches on clay this season, by far the most in women’s tennis, and he also became the first African player to win a WTA 1,000 event at the Madrid Open earlier this month.
But after taking a one-set lead on Sunday, Jabeur was never given a chance to settle due to Linette, who at one point had to leave the field for treatment on her right thigh.
Even in a tight second set, Jabeur had her chances to finish the match in the first round, missing four breakpoint opportunities when Linette finally took advantage in a tiebreak.
And in the final set, when a few drops of rain started to fall, Jabeur served to stay in the game. She had a 40-0 lead in her service game to keep her dreams alive, but faltered and a double foul gave Linette a match point, which she dutifully took.
“I saw how well she played all along, so I knew I had to be focused and play every point and try to make her uncomfortable. I’m just glad I was able to fight for every point.”
Linette will now face Italy’s Martina Trevisan or Britain’s Harriet Dart in the second round.