Osaka Off To Winning Start At Nadal-dominated French Open

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Naomi Osaka swept to her first victory at the French Open in three years on Monday, setting up a potential showdown with world No 1 Iga Swiatek, as Roland Garros prepared to possibly bid farewell to Rafael Nadal.

Osaka, a four-time major winner who has yet to get past the third round in Paris, needed three sets to defeat Italy’s 48th-ranked Lucia Bronzetti on the showpiece Court Philippe Chatrier, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5.
The 26-year-old fired 31 winners, including six aces, and 45 unforced errors in a match where she gave up a 4-0 lead in the decider before finding herself 5-4 down.

However, she rallied strongly to register her first win at a Grand Slam since the 2022 Australian Open.

“It feels really nice to be back and I’m just really grateful to be here in front of everybody,” said Osaka.

“I think there were moments when I played really well.”
The Japanese star, a former world No 1 now at 134 in the rankings, has endured a bittersweet relationship with the French capital.

In 2021, she was fined for opting out of mandatory media commitments before withdrawing from the tournament in order to protect her mental health.

A year later, she fell in the first round before leaving the sport in September 2022 for 16 months to start a family.

Top seed Swiatek, chasing a fourth French Open, will face Osaka if the Pole gets past qualifier Leolia Jeanjean on Monday.

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