Naomi Osaka begins French Open with bevy of mistakes, straight-sets victory


Naomi Osaka overcame a slew of mistakes to win in her return to the French Open and then did something no one knew whether she would: She spoke briefly to the crowd.

The No. 2-ranked Osaka has said she won’t participate in news conferences at Roland Garros, and she did not do a pre-tournament session with the media.

After beating Patricia Maria Tig 6-4, 7-6 (4) despite 35 unforced errors at Court Philippe Chatrier, Osaka spoke into a microphone and briefly exchanged pleasantries with Fabrice Santoro, a former pro tennis player who conducts post-match interviews at the French Open so fans can hear something from the athletes.

Osaka has won four Grand Slam titles, all on hard courts, including the Australian Open this February.

She has never been past the third round at Roland Garros and skipped the clay-court major last year shortly after winning the U.S. Open.

As for her game on clay, she told the sparse crowd at the tournament’s first match in its main stadium this year: “I would say it’s a work in progress. Hopefully the more I play, the better I get.”

3-time major champ Kerber loses

Three-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 Angelique Kerber already is gone from the French Open with a third consecutive first-round loss.

The 26th-seeded Kerber was beaten 6-2, 6-4 to Anhelina Kalinina, a qualifier from Ukraine ranked 139th making her tournament debut.

Roland Garros is the only Grand Slam title that Kerber hasn’t won, and she’s frequently struggled on its red clay.

Her defeat on Court 14 on the opening Sunday was the eighth time in 14 appearances in Paris that she has exited in the first round.

Kerber’s best results in Paris were reaching the quarter-finals in 2012 and 2018.

She won the Australian Open and U.S. Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2018.

Gauff, Venus Williams teaming in doubles

Americans Coco Gauff and Venus Williams are teaming up in doubles at the French Open.

The women’s doubles draw was announced in Paris on Sunday and Gauff, 17, and Williams, 40, are a surprise entry.

Gauff has beaten Williams twice in Grand Slam singles action – at Wimbledon in 2019 and at the Australian Open last year.

Williams is a seven-time major singles champion and owns another 14 Slam doubles titles that she won with her younger sister, Serena.

Gauff and Williams will face 13th-seeded Ellen Perez and Zheng Saisai in the first round.

Other pairings include 2020 French Open singles champion Iga Swiatek with Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and 2019 singles champ Ash Barty with Jennifer Brady.

The No. 1-seeded team is Hsieh Su-Wei and Elise Mertens.

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