French Open 2022: Swiatek cruises to 29th straight win, but defending champ Krejcikova beaten

Osaka also out at first hurdle, but Andreescu rallies past rain delay to win in three

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek (Photo: Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships)

There was certainly no shortage of quality on show on the second day of this year’s French Open. No fewer than eight women’s Major champions would begin their campaigns, while three former men’s champions at this very tournament would also take to court.

The most highly anticipated opener in the women’s draw was not, against expectations, scheduled on Paris’s showcase court, Philippe Chatrier, but on the ever-popular Suzanne Lenglen. So the fans who headed straight there for the 11am start between No27 seed Amanda Anisimova and former No1 but currently unseeded Naomi Osaka would be crossing fingers that the promised rain held off for the duration.

It was here, exactly a year ago, that Osaka declined to carry out her media obligations, and subsequently withdrew after her first match citing mental health problems. She went on to withdraw from the grass season, and then played just three events before again pulling the plug for the rest of the year.

The four-time Major champion finally returned in Australia, and it so happened that her title defence there was halted in the third round by Anisimova, in a final-set tie-breaker in their only meeting until now.

And their progress through the intervening months suggested that the tall American could again come out on top. Osaka had regained enough of her old form to reach the final in Miami, but an injury in Madrid meant she had played just two clay matches prior to Roland Garros—and the French Open had not been a happy hunting ground for the Japanese star even before last year’s turn of events.

Anisimova, on the other hand, was a semi-finalist in Paris as a teenager, and this season had notched up two quarter-final runs in Madrid and Rome, plus the semis in Charleston. It was, though, a tentative opening by both women.

There were a couple of breaks each as they headed deep into the first set, with errors punctuated by the expected big shots from these heavy-weight strikers of the ball. Come 5-5, though, and Anisimova was the first to find her form, finally breaking Osaka at the fourth attempt, and she went on to serve it out to love, 7-5.

The 20-year-old American got an early chance to break, too, in the third game, but could not convert. She had to stave off heavy pressure in the sixth game to hold at 3-3, but then turned on the attack against the Osaka serve, and broke to take the lead.

However, the nerves seemed to take a hold, her serve wavered, and she suddenly faced 0-40. She was let off the hook as Osaka pounded a couple of returns long, and that boosted the American confidence. An ace, then a forehand winner, and she went 5-3.

She had to dig deep to serve out the match, twice finding the net, but a huge backhand winner sealed the deal and the second round, 6-4, to face Donna Vekic—and just in time: the rain had begun to fall.

Indeed the match between qualifier Lesia Tsurenko and the favourite for the title, 2020 champion Iga Swiatek, who was in Paris on an extraordinary run of 28 match-wins and five titles, had begun under the new roof on the Philippe Chatrier court. It was just as well: By the time Swiatek swept to her 29th match-win—in only 54 minutes—6-2, 6-0, every other court at Roland Garros was under covers against the rain.

The sign held up by one fan lucky enough to enjoy a Chatrier ticket summed up the Swiatek phenomenon: “She may never lose again.”

It was probably too soon to say the popular Pole was a certainty for her sixth title in a row, and her second French Open title, but with former champion and No10 seed Garbine Muguruza and this year’s most prolific clay winner, No6 seed Ons Jabeur, already losers in the first round, the look of the bottom half of the draw had already changed.

Two more Major champions, No15 seed Victoria Azarenka and Bianca Andreescu, had to kick their heels mid-match in the hope of better weather. So it was up to the defending champion, Barbora Krejcikova, seeded No2 this year, to keep the entertainment going on Chatrier. Last year, the Czech was the eighth different French Open champion in a row, so to defend her title would be something special.

In French teenager Diane Parry, who lived just down the road from the stadium, she faced a woman only just inside the top 100, with just one previous win at Roland Garros, and not a single main-tour win in 2022. But if ever there was a glimmer of a chance for the young French player to score the biggest win of her career, it was now.

Krejcikova was playing her first match since Doha in February after being side-lined with an elbow injury. So while she was still ranked No2, the Czech had played not one competitive match on clay this year.

She lost the very first point with a double fault, too, but Parry would win just one more point by the time the champion went 4-0. Then, however, Krejcikova scattered errors to give Parry a break-back chance, and she took it courtesy of another error from her opponent.

It would, though, be Parry’s only game of the set: The Czech served it out in the longest game of the match so far, finally sealing it at the third attempt, 6-1.

Krejcikova went on to break at the start of the second set, too, and had to battle hard to consolidate, 2-0. And those struggles for the defending champion continued apace. She had arrived on court with strapping to that troublesome elbow but also with a heavily supported ankle.

Was her lack of match-play starting to strain the body and the stamina? Parry broke back, to roars from the Chatrier crowds, and they had even more to cheer about as she broke twice more to take the set, 6-2, in a stunning swing in fortunes.

Krejcikova took advantage of a comfort break to don a warming tracksuit, and at last halted the run of six straight games to break in the long first game of the decider. The second game would be even longer, almost 10 minutes, with both women struggling to get a toe-hold, making errors. It took 15 points, and Parry failed to convert three break chances, as the champion held for 2-0.

There was then some relief for the French woman, an easier hold, and that seemed to galvanise Parry: Three winners brought up three break-back points, and a backhand error from Krejcikova took the score-line back to 2-2.

A love hold from Parry spurred her on, and she took the lead in the match for the very first time. Another love hold made it 4-3, and on break point, Krejcikova came forward to thump a volley way long. Parry would serve for the match. And despite a nervy second serve, she drew a 44th error from the defending champion in the biggest upset so far, 6-3.

Krejcikova will hope for better, and to build up her body and stamina via the doubles draw, where she will now hope to defend that title with her usual partner, Katerina Siniakova. Parry, though, will next take on 20-year-old Camila Osorio.

By now, the rain had passed, and the rest of Paris’s clay was back in action. Soon, Andreescu had joined Swiatek in the second round after coming back from a set and a break down to beat qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure, 3-6, 7-5, 6-0, in two hours.

It would take Azarenka a little longer to also battle through a tough three-setter against Ana Bogdan, also from a set down, 6-7(7), 7-6(1), 6-2, after three hours. She will next face Andrea Petkovic, who beat Ocean Dodin, 6-4, 6-2.

Other women’s results

Petra Kvitova beat Anna Bondar, 7-6(0), 6-1

Qinwen Zheng beat Maryna Zanevska, 6-3, 6-1

Daria Saville beat Valentina Grammatikopoulou, 6-1, 6-2

Martina Trevisan beat Harriet Dart, 6-0, 6-2

Alison Riske beat Dayana Yastremska, 6-3, 6-3

Emma Raducanu beat Czech teenager Linda Noskova, 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 6-1

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