Comeback mum Osaka goes down fighting in epic French Open tussle with Swiatek

French Open title holder Iga Swiatek saved a match point as she eked out a narrow win on Wednesday over fellow four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka, who was making her French Open comeback just months after returning from a lengthy maternity break.

Relentless rain threw a wet blanket on the French Open on Wednesday – but not for the lucky few with tickets to Court Philippe Chatrier.

Under the court’s retractable roof, Swiatek, a three-time champion here in Paris, was pushed to the brink as she battled to a 7-6(1), 1-6, 7-5 victory in a high-voltage second-round clash.

Osaka delivered her finest performance since coming back from her maternity break, her powerful groundstrokes posing a litany of problems for her opponent. But she proved unable to capitalise when up 5-2 in the deciding set, allowing the Polish champion to claw her way back into the tie.

“This match was really intense, much more intense for the second round than I ever expected,” said a breathless Swiatek after sealing the win. “Naomi played amazing tennis and maybe she is going to be a clay-court specialist in a while!”

Swiatek’s victory extended her Roland Garros winning streak to 16 matches as she pursues a third consecutive trophy in Paris. For her Japanese opponent, the bruising defeat amounted to an announcement that she is still capable of elite tennis.

Swiatek, the world number one, headed into the clash in the form of her life, on the back of clay-court tournament wins in Madrid and Rome.

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