Swiatek wins over ‘best friend’ in Paris

Swiatek wins over ‘best friend’ in Paris

Iga Swiatek has launched her French Open title defence by thrashing her buddy Kaja Juvan 6-0 7-5 as Japan’s Naomi Osaka withdrew from the tournament amid a furore about her media boycott.

Swiatek, who turned 20 on Monday, is attempting to become the first woman since Justine Henin in 2007 to win consecutive French Open titles.

She won’t have to contend with Osaka, the world No.2 who won her opening match against Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday.

Osaka announced her withdrawal via Twitter on Monday after her decision not to take part in press conferences or interviews became the biggest talking point of the tournament.

Osaka, who cited mental health reasons, wrote on Twitter: “I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.”

Swiatek will have to contend with another force, world No.1 Ash Barty, who won the French Open in 2019 but skipped the trip in 2020 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and risks.

Barty plays her first round match against Bernarda Pera of the US on Tuesday.

But Monday was all about Swiatek, who got a warm hug before the start of the match from Juvan, who is her friend from junior ranks.

Swiatek did not return any favours once they got on the opposite sides of the net at Court Philippe-Chatrier, and she beat her buddy.

“It’s never easy to play against your best friend,” Swiatek told reporters after her win.

“You just try to block this friendship for two hours, just focus on the game. I think I’m doing that pretty well. It’s nice to have that skill.”

Swiatek was handed a bouquet and the spectators sang ‘happy birthday’ after she’d set second-round meeting against Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson, who ousted American Shelby Rogers with a 6-7(3) 7-6(8) 6-2 win.

Bianca Andreescu was the highest women’s seed to fall on Monday as she lost a three-hour marathon match against Tamara Zidansek in the first round.

The former US Open champion, seeded sixth, went down 6-7(1) 7-6(2) 9-7 to the Slovenian.

The women’s draw lost another big name when former French Open semi-finalist Kiki Bertens fell at the first hurdle, losing 6-1 3-6 6-4 to another Slovenian Polona Hercog.

Marketa Vondrousova, the 2019 runner-up who is seeded 20th this year, managed to avoid an early exit, battling back from a set down to beat Kaia Kanepi 4-6 6-3 6-0.

Britain’s No.1 Johanna Konta will tumble out of the top 30 after suffering a first-round defeat against Romanian Sorana Cirstea 7-6 (5) 6-2 defeat.

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