Swiatek sets up battle royale with Osaka after quick French Open start

swiatek sets up battle royale with osaka after quick french open start

Iga Swiatek had no trouble beating Leolia Jeanjean in the first round. Photograph: Matthieu Mirville/DPPI/Shutterstock

Iga Swiatek, the world No 1, began her pursuit of a third consecutive French Open title by easing through an efficient 6-1, 6-2 first-round win over Leolia Jeanjean, a French qualifier, to set up a highly anticipated contest with Naomi Osaka.

The match will see the two most successful players in the draw, both four-time grand slam champions, go head to head for the first time in two years. Osaka, who is unseeded as she continues her return from maternity leave, reached the second round on Sunday with a narrow 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 win over Lucia Bronzetti and she will be a significant underdog against the tournament favourite.

“Really impressed,” said Swiatek of Osaka’s return from maternity leave. “I think she’s a great person, and her game style is pretty fun to watch as well. I haven’t actually played against Naomi obviously on clay, so we’ll see how that’s gonna go. We need to prepare tactically, for sure. But all these matches that we played on hard court were always really intense and tough. So I’m just glad that she came back and she’s playing more tournaments even than before the break.”

With another successful fortnight at Roland Garros, Swiatek could close the gap to Justine Henin, the greatest female clay-courter of the 21st century. Another title would both equal Henin’s total of four Paris triumphs and the Belgian’s run of three consecutive wins between 2005 and 2007. She is now on a 13-match winning streak after becoming the first player to win the Madrid-Rome double since it became a four week challenge last year.

“The last tournaments gave me a lot,” the Pole said. “I managed to play [good] tennis in any conditions, under any circumstances. I’m really proud of myself but although I’m really confident I don’t want to take anything for granted.” Coco Gauff followed Swiatek into the second round with an easy 6-1, 6-1 win over Julia Avdeeva.

In the men’s draw, Jannik Sinner returned to action after a hip injury with a comfortable 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win over Christopher Eubanks. “I only play if the hip is 100%,” said the Italian. “The hip seems good. I’m very happy about that. The general shape, as I said before already, is not where I want to be, but it takes time.”

Elsewhere, Cameron Norrie suffered a brutal end to his clay-court season as he built a two sets to one lead against the Russian world No 56 Pavel Kotov, eventually losing 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Monday afternoon.

Norrie had arrived in Paris in decent form, having beaten every lower-ranked player he faced during the clay-court season while only losing to highly ranked opponents, such as Stefanos Tsitsipas in Rome and Casper Ruud in Madrid. Norrie was in control of the contest early on and he came within two points of victory at 5-5 in the second set tie-break before two poor backhand errors.

With Harriet Dart’s 7-6 (3), 6-4 loss to Linda Noskova, the 27th seed, all four British players in action so far have lost. Katie Boulter, the 26th seed, will face Paula Badosa on Tuesday and Dan Evans will tackle the 13th seed Holger Rune.

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