AFP - Japan’s Naomi Osaka battled back from a set and a break down to reach the Roland Garros second-round yesterday while Grand Slam under-achiever Alexander Zverev needed four hours to get through his opener.
Top seed Osaka, bidding to add the French Open to her US and Australian Open titles, defeated Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 0-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.
However, she came within a whisker of becoming only the second top seed to lose in the first-round in Paris in the modern era after Angelique Kerber in 2017.
World number 90 Schmiedlova, who hadn’t won a match at the tournament since 2014, twice served for victory in the 10th and 12th games of the second-set.
But Osaka, who had arrived in Paris still feeling the effects of a hand injury suffered in Rome, battled back to set-up a second-round duel with former world number one and two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka.
Azarenka, a semi-finalist in 2013, reached the second-round for the first time since 2015 with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) win over 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko.
World number 43 Azarenka triumphed in a match punctuated by 13 breaks of serve and 60 unforced errors by Ostapenko who hasn’t won a match at the tournament in her last two visits.
German fifth seed Zverev, a quarter-finalist in 2018, battled past Australia’s John Millman 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 in a shade over four hours.
Next up for Zverev is Swedish qualifier Mikael Ymer, the world number 148 of Ethiopian origin, who marked his Grand Slam debut with a 6-0, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) win over Slovenia’s Blaz Rola.
Argentine eighth seed Juan Martin del Potro, a semi-finalist in 2009 and 2018, made the second-round with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 win over Chilean world number 58 Nicolas Jarry.
Canada’s Bianca Andreescu, the surprise champion at Indian Wells, marked her Roland Garros debut by beating Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
Ivo Karlovic made a mockery of his 40 years to beat relative spring chicken, 37-year-old Feliciano Lopez, in the oldest ever Men’s match-up at Roland Garros.
Croatian Karlovic, the tallest player on the tour at 6ft 11in (2.11m), defeated Lopez 7-6 (7/4), 7-5, 6-7 (7/9), 7-5.
He is the oldest man to win a Grand Slam match since Ken Rosewall in 1978.