French Open: Iga Swiatek survives Naomi Osaka’s challenge to overcome Roland Garros thriller | Tennis news

World number one and defending champion Iga Swiatek survived match point before edging Naomi Osaka 7-6 (7-1), 1-6, 7-5 in the second round of the French Open on Wednesday .

Osaka looked set for her biggest win in years when she led the world number one and defending champion 5-2 in the third set.

But the 26-year-old Japanese will have nightmares about a botched forehand as Swiatek survived a match point to pull himself back from the brink of defeat and win a classic.

“Without a doubt this match was more intense than I expected,” said the three-time Roland Garros winner. “Osaka played great tennis, she will be the clay specialist in a while. I am very happy that she is back.

“Sometimes my mind was spinning, but the pressure made me play better. I kept going and I hope my game improves.”

It was a remarkable effort from Osaka, the former world number one, who only returned to action after maternity leave in January.

Just three years ago he withdrew from the French Open due to depression and put his tennis career on hold.

He hasn’t particularly liked playing on clay either, as he didn’t make it past the third round in Paris and is now ranked 134th in the world.

Swiatek, by contrast, has looked invincible on her best surface this season, winning her last 13 matches, including titles in Madrid and Rome, and was a heavy favorite for a third consecutive Roland Garros title, and a fourth in five. years.

Winning streak

At 22 years and 363 days, Iga Swiatek is the third-youngest player after Monica Seles and Steffi Graf to win 16 consecutive matches at the French Open during the Open Era.

Swiatek has won his 30th match at Roland Garros, as many as Seles did before turning 23; Only Steffi Graf (47), Arantxa Sánchez Vicario (39), Gabriela Sabatini (34) and Martina Hingis (31) have recorded more U23 wins in this event during the Open Era.

How Swiatek beat Osaka in the classic…

Osaka’s start was not very encouraging, but, broken in the first game, she settled down as the first set progressed and returned the score to 4-4 and forced a set point on Swiatek’s serve.

Swiatek averted that crisis and, when she took a one-sided tiebreaker, the game improved for Osaka.

But the 2021 US Open champion began to swing and Swiatek began to struggle.

Such has been Swiatek’s dominance in the tournament that he had previously only lost seven sets in five years at Roland Garros.

But at times she watched in bewilderment as Osaka defeated winner after winner (she reached 54 in total) to even the match.

In the decider, Osaka managed a staggering five winners in one game, even standing and admiring the backhand past Swiatek for another break.

Osaka had a match point on her racquet, but Swiatek repelled it with a good return, and instead an open-court forehand that floated millimeters too long allowed the 22-year-old Pole to recover.

The pressure was evident for both players, and Swiatek reprimanded a spectator for yelling during one point.

However, when Osaka pushed hard and double-faulted, Swiatek, trailing 5-2, served for the match and a thrilling contest of immense quality ended when Osaka’s backhand went wide.

Swiatek had not forgotten the crowd’s shout that cost him a point afterwards and told them: “I’m sorry to mention this. I have great respect for you and I know we are playing for you. This is entertainment.

“But sometimes, under a lot of pressure, when you shout something during the rally or just before the lap, it’s very, very difficult to stay focused.”

Was fatigue the problem for Osaka?

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Osaka did not return to action until January after maternity leave.

“I think they were both nervous, and that’s understandable. Naomi’s style of play is to go for her shots no matter what, so when her arms started to feel a little tighter, that made a difference,” Laura said Robson in Eurosport.

“You can see he was trying to commit to the same forehands, but he wasn’t as free with that or his footwork.

“She handled it pretty well, but what a showcase for women’s tennis!”

Victories for Gauff, Jabeur and Kenin

Tunisian Ons Jabeur celebrates winning her second round match of the French Open tennis match against Colombian Camila Osorio at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
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Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur also struggled to reach the third round.

US Open Champion Coco Gauff She beat Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek 6-3, 6-4, taking advantage of her powerful forehand in front of a crowd that was on her side.

The American dispatched nearly two dozen winners and overcame service issues, including six double faults, to advance to the next round.

The finalist from two years ago showed early signs of nerves when unseeded Zidansek broke her serve in the first game of the match.

But Gauff rallied in the sixth and eighth games, earning the decisive break of the second set in the ninth game before pumping his fist in satisfaction when Zidansek sent the ball into the tram lines on match point.

Tunisia Ons Jabeur She beat Colombian Camila Osorio 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 in a rollercoaster match to advance to the third round.

Jabeur barely made a mistake in the first set, combining power and finesse to put Osorio at a disadvantage, but a fall in the second set disrupted his rhythm.

That opened the door for Osorio to return to the competition, while Jabeur made several unforced errors as the Colombian took a set from the eighth seed for the first time in three meetings.

Both players struggled on serve in the decider, which saw five break points converted, but it was Jabeur who increased her intensity towards the end, taking a 4-1 lead before closing out the match with 31 winners.

Former Australian Open champion and French Open finalist Sofia Kenin She breezed into the third round with a convincing 6-3 6-3 win over local hope Caroline Garcia.

“Yes, I’m super happy, it means a lot to have won today, García is an incredible player. I regret having won,” said the American. “I’m working hard and it’s paying off, thank you.”

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