World No. 1 Naomi Osaka was pushed to the very edge Tuesday in her Roland Garros opener. Facing the lightly-regarded Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Osaka dropped the first set stunning 6-0 before rallying for a 0-6, 7-6(4), 6-1 win.
Schmiedlova never held a match point, but she did serve for the win twice in the second. But having losing 10 straight in Grand Slam play, the 24-year-old couldn’t finish off the 2-time Slam winner.
“I think everybody saw that I was really close,” Schmiedlova said after the match. “And it did hurt that I lose today because I had so many chances.
“She’s No.1 in the world and amazing player. I admire her so much. I think I could have won today, but maybe next time.”
Osaka, who also blew a 3-0 lead in the second, admitted to nerves after her 15th straight win in a Slam.
“I think this is the most nervous I have ever been my entire life during a match,” said Osaka. “I think you could see that in the first set. I was literally not hitting any balls in the court.
“For me, today was weird because usually the nerves go away, but it kind of stayed the entire match. Then I just felt like it was a fight of willpower. I managed to win in the end.”
“It was my first time playing a Grand Slam as No.1. I won the last two [majors], so I kind of want to win this one really bad. I have never played on Chatrier before. This was my first time.”
Simona Halep followed on Chatrier opening her title defense against Alja Tomljanovic. The Romanian looked good early but a hiccup in the second cost her, but she won in three sets 6-2, 3-6, 6-1. The match was her first as a defending champion.
“In my opinion, it was a great match,” said Halep. “The level was great, and actually her level in the second set was really high. So I had to be focused more on myself to find out what I have to play better in the third set to be able to win.
“Of course it was not easy because of the emotions, the pressure, but it’s always nice to go back on that court.”
Victoria Azarenka kept 2017 champ Jelena Ostapenko reeling with a 6-4, 7-6(5) win.
“[Ostapenko is] one of the players that you never know what’s coming, and she doesn’t really give a lot of rhythm,” Azarenka said. “So for the first round, that was obviously, for me, something very dangerous because it’s important to get into the rhythm, into the tournament. And with a player like that, you need to find a way to win, and I felt that today that’s what it was.”
French No. 1 Caroline Garcia also advanced as did American teen Amanda Anisimova, 2018 semifinalist Madison Keys and the big-hitting Aryna Sabalenka.
On tap Wednesday, the second round begins with recent winners Karolina Pliskova and
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