The French open lost two stars on Monday in the women’s draw. Naomi Osaka made headlines deciding to withdraw from the event and later former champion Garbine Muguruza was bothered by a back issue and teen Marta Kostyuk in a 6-1, 6-4 defeat.
Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu also lost going down to Tamara Zidansek 9-7 in the third.
But two of the big attractions did get through. To start the day on Chatrier, Iga Swiatek celebrated her 20th birthday by opening her title defense with a tough 6-0, 7-5 win over good friend Kaja Juvan.
“First set was really, really good for me,” said Swiatek after his 16th straight set win in Paris. “I was really offensive. I didn’t let Kaja find her rhythm. In the second, I feel like I backed out a little bit. I gave her some chances, and she used them pretty well. I kind of lost a little bit my confidence.
“But I knew as soon as she’s not breaking me, everything is under control. Just probably two important balls are going to be the most important for that set.”
In the first night session in French Open history, Serena Williams survived a tricky opening set before pulling away from Irina Camelia Begu 7-6(6), 6-2.
The Romanian Bega overcame a break in the first, then led 6-4 in the breaker but failed to convert either set points against the 3-time champion.
“I’m happy that I was able to save those moments,” Serena said of the two set points. “Did not want to lose that first set. I wasn’t thinking at that moment. I was just thinking to get that ball out the air, because I’ve been hitting some good swing volleys in practice.”
Serena, though, admitted she doesn’t like night matches.
“I wasn’t sure why there wasn’t a crowd,” she said. “I guess it was because there’s curfew at 9. It’s definitely a little different. Overall, yeah, ironically enough night sessions are not my favorite matches, but I do have a good record at it. Clearly something about it gets me hyped.
“I have to say it was pretty cool to be able to play the first night session ever here at Roland Garros. That was something I thoroughly enjoyed.”
In a feisty battle of two players who have made this final, Sofia Kenin got the better of 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. The match featured 16 breaks of serve with Kenin converting 9 of 10 to earn her first clay win since the Paris semifinals last year!
“I’m really happy with the way I played. I fought out there. She’s such a tough player to play. I know her game quite well since I practiced with her during quarantine in Australia. I kind of knew what to expect from her.
She’s a tough player, a great player. I had to really play some really good tennis and really fight out there if I wanted to win.”
Also advancing where Elise Mertens, former finalist Marketa Vondrousova, Jessica Pegula, Caroline Garcia and Belinda Bencic who blasted 2020 surprise semifinalist Nadia Podoroska 6-0, 6-3.
Tomorrow, the final day of the first round sees the return of 2019 champion Ash Barty who takes on American Bernarda Pera. Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova and Coco Gauff are also in action.
And Carla Suarez Navarra begins her comeback after battling cancer against former finalist Sloane Stephens.
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