Osaka survives first-round scare at French Open

Top seed Naomi Osaka of Japan overcame a first-set disaster and rallied for an 0-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1 first-round victory over Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova at the French Open on Tuesday.
The reigning U.S. Open and Australian Open champion extended her Grand Slam winning streak to 15 matches.

Naomi Osaka
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

“I think this is the most nervous I have ever been in my entire life during a match,” Osaka said. “I think you could see that in the first set. I was literally not hitting any balls in the court.”
Osaka had 13 unforced errors and just four winners in the 22-minute opening set. Schmiedlova was two points away from the upset, leading 6-5 and serving at 30-15 before Osaka fought back to force the tiebreak. She kept the momentum through the rest of the match, finishing with 32 winners and 25 unforced errors over the final two sets.
“It’s one of those matches where you’re not playing well, but you have to find a way to win,” Osaka said. “For me, I’ve just begun learning how to do that.”
Schmiedlova was playing a top-ranked opponent for the first time in her career.
“I think everybody saw that I was really close,” she said. “She’s No. 1 in the world and an amazing player. I admire her so much. I think I could have won today, but maybe next time.”
Osaka will face former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the second round. Azarenka defeated 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia earlier in the day, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
Osaka and Azarenka have met twice before, with Azarenka winning at the Australian Open in 2016 and Osaka avenging the defeat last year in Rome.
Defending Roland Garros champ and No. 3 seed Simona Halep of Romania also survived a first-round challenge, beating Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.
Halep fill face Poland’s Magda Linette, a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 winner against French wild card Chloe Paquet. Halep is trying to become the first woman to defend a Grand Slam title since Serena Williams won back-to-back Wimbledon crowns in 2015 and 2016.
No. 14 seed Madison Keys, a 2018 semifinalist here, cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina.
Other seeded players who won Tuesday included No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and No. 16 Qiang Wang of China. Home favorite and No. 24 seed Caroline Garcia defeated Germany’s Mona Barthel 6-2, 6-4.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

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