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French Open PIX: Tsitsipas, Zverev, Osaka advance; Kerber loses

Last updated on: May 31, 2021 10:34 IST
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Images from Day 1 of the French Open matches played at Roland Garros on Sunday

 

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in action during his first round match against France's Jeremy Chardy

IMAGE: Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in action during his first round match against France's Jeremy Chardy. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame a sluggish start to reach the second round of the French Open with a 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-1 victory over France's Jeremy Chardy on Sunday.

 

The fifth seed, who extended his winning run on clay to five matches after clinching the title in Lyon last week, was in trouble in the opening set in an empty court Philippe Chatrier after spectators were sent home under a 9 p.m. local time curfew before making his superiority count.

Tsitsipas, who lost to 13-times Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal in the final in Barcelona, steamrolled past a helpless Chardy in the other two sets.

He ended Chardy's challenge after just over two hours with a forehand winner for a no-nonsense victory.

He will next face either American Sebastian Korda or Spain's Pedro Martinez.

Zverev turns around two-set deficit against qualifier Otte

Germany's Alexander Zverev reacts during his first round match against Germany's Oscar Otte

IMAGE: Germany's Alexander Zverev reacts during his first round match against Germany's Oscar Otte. Photograph: Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters

Sixth seed Alexander Zverev rallied from two sets down to beat qualifier Oscar Otte 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 in his opening round of the French Open on Sunday.

The 24-year-old seemed to be heading for an early exit like Austrian Dominic Thiem, who beat him in the 2020 US Open final, when he lost the first two sets on the Suzanne Lenglen Court but he found a different gear to turn around the contest.

For the rest of the match, it was one-way traffic against the 152nd-ranked Otte in the first meeting between the two Germans as Zverev's movement on the red clay improved and he found more power in his shots and more sting in his serves.

"It's the first time I played Oscar so I didn't know what to expect much but he didn't give me any rhythm," Zverev said in his on-court interview.

"And to be honest I feel like, to beat a top player in a Grand Slam, especially in the first few rounds, this is exactly how you should play.

"I couldn't find my rhythm. In the third set I decided to hit the ball a little harder, hit the forehand a little heavier as well and managed to turn it around.

"Maybe he was a little bit more tired than me. Maybe he is not used to these kind of intense matches. But he played incredible and I hope he will continue playing this way."

Two-time runner-up Thiem earlier became the first major upset on the opening day as he was knocked out by Spanish journeyman Pablo Andujar 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

For the first two sets, the 27-year-old Otte did not play like someone making only his third Grand Slam main-draw appearance -- his previous two coming at Roland Garros as a lucky loser -- and also playing his first tour-level match of 2021.

But Zverev, who sealed victory with his 50th winner, had experience to fall back on and has now won all seven of his five-set contests at Roland Garros.

"I have done it before, this is what helps me the most," said Zverev, who will next meet another qualifier in either Russian Roman Safiullin or Carlos Taberner of Spain. "In the first two sets he was killing me.

 

"I am happy with the turnaround win, I am happy to be through and most happy that I have two days off now instead of one. In the end it will also help me."

Naomi Osaka

IMAGE: Japan’s Naomi Osaka serves in her first round match against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

World number two Naomi Osaka began her French Open campaign with a 6-4, 7-6(4) win over Romanian Patricia Maria Tig on the opening day of the claycourt Grand Slam on Sunday.

The Japanese four-time major winner divided opinion ahead of the tournament with her decision to boycott press conferences citing mental health, but the debate made no impact on her performance on a sun-bathed Philippe Chatrier court.

 

The 23-year-old Osaka proved too powerful for the 63rd-ranked Tig and stamped her authority on the match early with a 5-2 lead but needed a second break of serve after the Romanian staged a fightback late on.

Tig saved a breakpoint and a match point to take the second set into a tiebreaker before Osaka sealed it with a backhand winner to set up a second round meeting with another Romanian in Ana Bogdan, who beat Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-1, 6-3.

Same failure, different year for Kerber at Roland Garros

Angelique Kerber

IMAGE: Germany's Angelique Kerber in action. Photograph: Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters

Former world number one Angelique Kerber's poor record at the French Open got no help when the German was knocked out in the first round by Ukrainian qualifier Anhelina Kalinina.

In an indication that the 26th seed, who has never made it past the quarter-finals here despite winning the other three Grand Slams once each, is not a top name on clay, Kerber was scheduled to play on the outside court 14.

She bowed out with a 6-2, 6-4 defeat for her third first-round loss in a row on the Paris dirt.

"She started well and had nothing to lose, while it took me too long to get into the contest," Kerber said afterwards.

In her last six tries she has failed to make it past the opening round on five occasions.

Kerber is now eager to play on a surface on which she fares better.

"I will try to learn from the match now because I played good the last few weeks and I had good matches," she said.

"I did the best preparation I could do in the last few weeks on clay, but yeah, it's fine, and now I'm looking forward to Wimbledon for the grass court season, and it sounds much better for me, so I'm happy that the next Grand Slam is on grass."

Kvitova saves matchpoint to reach second round

Petra Kvitova

IMAGE: Petra Kvitova in action during her match against Greet Minnen at Roland Garros Stadium. Photograph: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova survived a big scare against Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen in her opening round of the French Open, having to save a matchpoint en route to a 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-1 win.

Kvitova, who reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros in 2012 and last year, struggled with her serve from the start and suffered service breaks in her first two games.

The 11th seed fought back valiantly to take the opening set to a tie-breaker under slightly windy conditions on the Suzanne Lenglen court only to lose it by serving three double faults.

The Czech was down 30-40 at 6-5 in the second set and staring at a first-round exit at Roland Garros for the first time since 2010 but saved the matchpoint with a crosscourt backhand winner and then levelled things in the tiebreaker.

Her confidence soared in the decider and she jumped to a 5-0 lead in no time, losing just three points on serve in the third set.

"I would say that from my side it wasn't really good from the beginning," the former world number two said. "I was struggling, I was missing a lot, I was double faulting a lot."

"I didn't really feel myself that well. I was pretty tight. And, yeah, it was really tough. I mean, I was fighting not only with her but with myself as well."

"I'm glad that in the end I beat myself as well and beat her, so that counts."

World number 125 Minnen had lost both her previous meetings with Kvitova in straight sets. She looked the stronger player for most of the match but her resistance faded once Kvitova reined in her errors and found her range with her crushing forehands.

"I was just hoping that some point would just turn the match... I was just playing point by point," said Kvitova, who had 44 unforced errors.

"I started to serve a little bit better in the second set, and that was pretty important."

Kvitova will next meet Russian Elena Vesnina, who strolled past Belarusian Olga Govortsova 6-1, 6-0.

Sabalenka overcomes early scare to advance

Aryna Sabalenka

IMAGE: Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka in action during her first round match against Croatia's Ana Konjuh. Photograph: Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters

Third seed Aryna Sabalenka moved into the second round of the French Open with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Ana Konjuh on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Sabalenka, who is seeking her maiden Grand Slam title, sent out a warning earlier this month when she won the Madrid Open but she struggled to get going in the opening set and quickly found herself 4-2 down to the Croatian qualifier.

However, the Belarusian regained her composure and broke Konjuh three times, creating angles to open up the court before using her power to fire winners as she took the opening set.

Sabalenka raced to a 3-1 lead in the second set with two more breaks of serve as Konjuh faltered with a string of double faults while her unforced error count also rose.

Despite saving a match point with a hold of serve, Konjuh bowed out when she found the net on Sabalenka's second match point.

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