Ajla Tomljanovic has provided the perfect launchpad for Australia’s challenge at the French Open, battling to victory over Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova in her first-round match.
Tomljanovic, the country’s No.2 women’s player, is the lone Aussie in action on the opening day at Roland Garros and ensured it would be a 100 per cent winning start with her 6-2 6-4 victory on Sunday.
It’s the first time since 2015 that the Brisbane player had got past the first round in Paris, a statistic that left her astonished.
“Oh my gosh, has it been that long? I didn’t know it was that long but I felt like I needed a win here,” said Tomljanovic, who was the first of 10 Australians in the singles main draws to see action.
“It feels really nice, especially being the first up on Sunday. I do like starting early but I always get nervous that I’m out before the tournament even starts!” said the 28-year-old.
“So I’m really happy to get through. I don’t think it was the prettiest match but I toughed it out.”
Punching a ticket into the second-round 🎟️
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 30, 2021
First on court at the Paris claycourt slam, world No.76 Tomljanovic raced into a 5-0 lead in a first set that she largely dominated.
But Kozlova, ranked 83 places lower on the WTA computer, began to show some resistance, dragging the stanza out to 54 minutes.
A see-saw second set featured five breaks of serve before Tomljanovic finally prevailed after one hour 41 minutes, a delight for the Brisbane player after previously suffering four consecutive first-round exits at Roland Garros.
Osaka breezes into second round
World No.2 Naomi Osaka has started her French Open campaign with a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) win over Romanian Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday.
The Japanese four-time major winner divided opinion ahead of the tournament with her decision to boycott press conferences citing mental health, but the debate made no impact on her performance on a sun-bathed Philippe Chatrier Court.
The 23-year-old Osaka proved too powerful for the 63rd-ranked Tig and stamped her authority on the match early with a 5-2 lead but needed a second break of serve after the Romanian staged a fightback.
Tig saved a break point and a match point to take the second set into a tiebreaker before Osaka sealed it with a backhand winner to set up a second-round meeting with another Romanian in Ana Bogdan, who beat Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-1 6-3.
Former world No.1 Angelique Kerber’s poor record at the French Open got no help on Sunday when the German was knocked out in the first round by Ukrainian qualifier Anhelina Kalinina.
In an indication that the 26th seed, who has never made it past the quarter-finals at Roland Garros despite winning the other three grand slams once each, is not a top name on clay, Kerber was scheduled to play on the outside court 14.
She bowed out with a 6-2 6-4 defeat for her third first-round loss in a row on the Paris dirt.
“She started well and had nothing to lose, while it took me too long to get into the contest,” Kerber said.