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Defending champion among the big names to crash out early at French Open

Barbora Krejcikova tumbled out in the first round on Monday.

 Barbora Krejcikova pictured competing at the French Open.
Barbora Krejcikova pictured competing at the French Open.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Updated at 20.51

RAFAEL NADAL kicked off his quest for a 14th French Open title with a straight-sets win over Jordan Thompson, but former world number one Naomi Osaka and defending champion Barbora Krejcikova tumbled out in the first round on Monday.

Fifth-seeded Anett Kontaveit was also knocked out of the French Open, the fourth top ten player to fall before the end of the second day.

Kontaveit lost 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic and joins second seed and Krejcikova, sixth seed Ons Jabeur and 10th-seeded Garbine Muguruza at the first round exit door.

Nadal, on a quarter-final collision course with Novak Djokovic, brushed Australia’s Thompson aside 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 to improve his Roland Garros record to 106 wins and just three losses since his 2005 title-winning debut.

“I’m very happy with the victory today. I’m happy to get through in three sets,” said Nadal, seeded fifth.

“It’s a first-round, a positive match for me. Straight sets but with significant room for improvement.”

The Spaniard, who last week downplayed concerns over the recurrence of a foot injury that plagued him in Rome, meets Corentin Moutet in round two after the French wildcard defeated 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka.

Osaka, the unseeded four-time Grand Slam winner, was knocked out earlier in the day 7-5, 6-4 by Amanda Anisimova — the same player who ended the Japanese star’s title defence at the Australian Open this year.

Osaka served eight double faults and committed 29 unforced errors on her return to Roland Garros, after withdrawing in 2021 when she refused to honour mandatory media commitments before revealing she had been suffering from depression.

“I thought I tried really hard, and I just feel like it was a bit unfortunate because I wasn’t able to play as many matches leading into this tournament,” said Osaka.

Anisimova, the 27th seed, reached the semi-finals in Paris three years ago.

“It’s tough to see Naomi Osaka in the first round so I knew it wouldn’t be easy,” said the American.

“I knew I had to play my best tennis and the conditions were not easy.”

As rain stopped play on the outside courts for two hours, Krejcikova followed Osaka through the exit door, going down 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 to 19-year-old Frenchwoman Diane Parry in her first match since February following injury.

The Czech world number two had yet to play on clay this season after being sidelined by an elbow problem.

“I just think I just collapsed physically, and, I mean, it was tough because I didn’t play the matches,” said Krejcikova, who is set to drop out of the top 10.

- Swiatek backs up favourite tag -

Iga Swiatek, the favourite for the women’s title, stretched her winning streak to 29 matches by dispatching Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 6-0 in 54 minutes.

The 20-year-old Swiatek, who took over as world number one following Ashleigh Barty’s shock retirement, has won her last five tournaments and is bidding for a second French Open in three attempts.

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“Today was a pretty good match,” said Swiatek.

“I love playing here even though the last couple of days it’s been raining and pretty dark.”

Swiatek is unbeaten since February and has the longest winning streak on the WTA tour since Serena Williams won 34 matches in a row in 2013.

“I’m pretty sure that it can end, but I just want to keep going. I’m sure someday my streak will stop.”

Djokovic launches his title defence against Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan in the first of 10 night sessions — introduced at Roland Garros last year when a pandemic curfew saw most late matches played in front of empty stands.

It is the world number one’s first Grand Slam match since his high-profile deportation from Australia. He won his first title of the year at the Italian Open earlier this month.

“I feel I am always in that contention to fight for any Grand Slam trophy,” said Djokovic.

The Serb’s last match at a major was his loss to Daniil Medvedev in last year’s US Open final, a defeat which denied Djokovic a calendar Grand Slam.

– © AFP 2022

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