Osaka falls in Paris as Swiatek sizzles

AFP
May 24, 2022

PARIS: Former world number one Naomi Osaka and defending champion Barbora Krejcikova lost in the first round of the French Open on Monday, while women’s title favourite Iga Swiatek stretched...

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PARIS: Former world number one Naomi Osaka and defending champion Barbora Krejcikova lost in the first round of the French Open on Monday, while women’s title favourite Iga Swiatek stretched her winning streak to 29 matches.

The unseeded Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion, was knocked out 7-5, 6-4 by Amanda Anisimova — the same player who ended the Japanese star’s title defence at the Australian Open this year.

An error-plagued Osaka served up eight double faults and committed 29 unforced errors on her return to Roland Garros, after withdrawing in 2021 when she refused to honour mandatory media commitments before revealing she had been suffering from depression.

“I thought I tried really hard, and I just feel like it was a bit unfortunate because I wasn’t able to play as many matches leading into this tournament,” said Osaka. Anisimova, the 27th seed, reached the semi-finals in Paris three years ago.

“It’s tough to see Naomi Osaka in the first round so I knew it wouldn’t be easy,” said the American. “I knew I had to play my best tennis and the conditions were not easy.”

As rain stopped on the outside courts for two hours, Krejcikova followed Osaka in making an early exit, going down 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 to 19-year-old Frenchwoman Diane Parry in her first match since February following injury.

The Czech world number two had yet to play on clay this season after being sidelined by an elbow problem. “It’s really a dream for me,” said Parry, spurred on by the home support under the roof on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“I’m just the happiest right now.” With Krejcikova, Osaka and Madrid champion Ons Jabeur all going out in round one, Swiatek required just 54 minutes to dispatch Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 6-0.

The 20-year-old Swiatek, who took over as world number one following Ashleigh Barty’s shock retirement, has won her last five tournaments and is bidding for a second French Open in three attempts.

“Today was a pretty good match,” said Swiatek. “I love playing here even though the last couple of days it’s been raining and pretty dark.” Swiatek is unbeaten since February and has the longest winning streak on the WTA tour since Serena Williams won 34 matches in a row in 2013.

“I’m pretty sure that it can end, but I just want to keep going. I’m sure someday my streak will stop.” Defending champion Novak Djokovic and 13-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal start their Roland Garros campaigns later on a star-studded Monday.



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