World Number one Naomi Osaka has again been forced to battle back from a set down in the French Open at Rolland Garros.
Osaka was pushed to three sets by dual grand slam winner Victoria Azarenka. The Belarussian took the first set by six games to four. It was a sluggish start again by the world number one, who found herself four-love down. Azarenka raced into a five-one lead before eventually taking the first set six-four.
Azarenka again secured an early break of serve in the second set. Osaka pushed hard for a break back in the sixth game but Azarenka held for a four-games-to-two lead. That adversity sparked the world number one into life. Osaka reeled off three games to take a five-four lead, before winning the set by seven games to five.
The third set was a straightforward affair for the Japanese player. Osaka breezed into a five-one lead, breaking Azarenka’s serve twice. She eventually triumphed by six games to three.
Osaka has won the last two Grand Slams, the 2018 US Open and this year’s Australian Open. However, she previously hasn’t had much joy on clay never progressing beyond the third round at the French Open. Before today Osaka has a rather miserable five wins and three losses in her appearances at Rolland Garros. There were also signs in the opening round that perhaps Osaka was not going to carry her Australian Open form into Rolland Garros. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova won the opening set to love in their first-round encounter before the world number one battled back.
It’s another early exit for Azarenka, whose last major win was in back in 2013, she is clearly not the force of old. While next up for Osaka is a clash with 42nd seed Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, as Osaka looks to progress to the quarter-finals in Paris for the first time.