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Appearing at a sunny Roland Garros for the first time since being upset by Katerina Siniakova in 2019, the world no2 defeated Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig 6-4, 7-6 in front of a few hundred fans on Court Philippe Chatrier to set up a meeting with Ana Bogdan.
Osaka - a two-time winner on hard courts at both the US Open and Australian Open - is bidding to go beyond the third round in Paris for the first time in her career.
The 23-year-old attracted headlines in the days building up to the clay-court major by announcing that she would not be attending mandatory press conferences during the event, citing the need to protect her mental health.
While Osaka is not attending press conferences, she did give a brief on-court interview after her first-round victory that came despite 35 unforced errors.
“I'm very glad that I won," she said. "It's a very beautiful court. I've only played two matches here, one was before the roof and one is right now. Hopefully I'll keep it going."
Addressing her movement on clay, she added: "I would say it's a work in progress. Hopefully the more I play, the better I'll get."
Elsewhere in the early stages on opening day at Roland Garros, former women’s no1 Angelique Kerber suffered her third consecutive first-round loss at the hands of Ukrainian qualifier Anhelina Kalinina, losing 6-2, 6-4.