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French Open 2021: Defending champion Swiatek through but Andreescu suffers shock exit

By Patric Ridge
Swiatek

Paris, June 1: Iga Swiatek celebrated her 20th birthday in style on Monday, overcoming Kaja Juvan in straight sets to get her French Open title defence off to a strong start.

Swiatek clinched her maiden grand slam – and first senior career title – at Roland Garros in 2020, and the Pole was in supreme form as she confidently saw off close friend Juvan 6-0 7-5.

A champion in Rome in the lead-up to Roland Garros, Swiatek made it 20 game wins in a row – dating back to her Internazionali d'Italia semi-final against Coco Gauff – until Juvan held her own in the second game of the second set.

French Open 2021: Women's stats preview; Swiatek has her task cut outFrench Open 2021: Women's stats preview; Swiatek has her task cut out

Swiatek saved two break points at 5-5 before wrapping up the win.

"It's never easy to play against your best friend," Swiatek said after the match. "I have some experience because I played with Kaja for a few times. I've played with my other friends on junior level.

"You just try to block this friendship for two hours, just focus on the game.

"I think I'm doing that pretty well. It's nice to have that skill. So I was just trying to treat Kaja as any other girl, as any other opponent, because in sports when we are on court you can't have thoughts that are you going to make your game softer."

ANGUISH FOR ANDREESCU

There was no such route through for Bianca Andreescu, the sixth seed coming unstuck against world number 85 Tamara Zidansek.

Andreescu's stint at this year's French Open lasted three hours and 20 minutes, but the world number four could not find a way through and duly became the biggest women's casualty of the first round so far.

The 2019 US Open champion headed into the tournament on the back of pulling out of a quarter-final at the Internationaux de Strasbourg due to an abdominal injury and was playing in only her third tour-level match on clay. She won the opening set on a tie-break, yet it was Zidansek who prevailed 6-7 (1-7) 7-6 (7-2) 9-7 to claim her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Kiki Bertens was another seed to drop out, the number 16 going down 6-1 3-6 6-4 to Polona Hercog.

KENIN BATTLES ON

World number five Sofia Kenin saw off a tough challenger in the form of 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko.

"I knew it was gonna be a tough match, she's a great player," Kenin said, after a 6-4 4-6 6-3 victory. "I knew I needed to play my best tennis in order to win."

Kenin, 22, came from a break down twice to take the opening set, and though Ostapenko hit back, American Kenin held her nerve in the decider, setting up a second-round tie with compatriot Hailey Baptiste.

"I'm a feisty kid, and I have to fight in order to win," added Kenin, who lost to Swiatek in last year's final but has struggled for results in 2021. "I've got a little bit of feistiness in me and that helps me in these types of matches."

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Story first published: Tuesday, June 1, 2021, 0:30 [IST]
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