Iga Swiatek Triumphs in French Open Thriller Against Naomi Osaka

Defending champion Iga Swiatek overcame Naomi Osaka in a dramatic French Open second-round match, narrowly avoiding an early exit. Despite facing a match point, Swiatek won 7-6(1) 1-6 7-5. The crowd's behavior drew criticism, highlighting the intense atmosphere at Roland Garros.

Reuters | Updated: 30-05-2024 00:41 IST | Created: 30-05-2024 00:41 IST
Iga Swiatek Triumphs in French Open Thriller Against Naomi Osaka
Iga Swiatek

Defending champion Iga Swiatek came back from the brink to down Naomi Osaka in a French Open second-round blockbuster, saving a match point as she just avoided her earliest exit at Roland Garros, where the wild crowd came under fire on Wednesday.

With fans starved of action on a day when persistent rainfall washed out play on the outside courts, the two four-time Grand Slam champions served up a memorable battle on court Philippe Chatrier, even if hundreds of ticket holders had already returned to the warmth of their homes. "This match was really intense, much more than I would have expected for a second round. I'll be more ready next time. Naomi played some amazing tennis with a loose hand," said Swiatek, the winner here in 2020, 2022 and 2023, after her 7-6(1) 1-6 7-5 victory.

Swiatek saved a set point before forcing a tiebreak that she won comfortably, but Osaka, back at the French Open for the first time since 2022 after a maternity break, went all in. Peppering the court with jaw-dropping winners, the 26-year-old blazed through the second set and showed no signs of slowing down in the decider, until she cracked under pressure.

Leading 5-2, she lost all the remaining games as winners turned into sometimes ugly unforced errors. Serving for the match at 5-3, Osaka netted a routine forehand and she buried another one on match point.

Swiatek by then was all fired up and she did not let it slide, getting to fight another day in Paris and extending her winning run to 14 matches after claiming the titles in Madrid and Rome. The Pole, however, had a message for the French Open fans, known to be a fickle crowd.

"Basically for you, because it's entertainment and we make a lot of money thanks to you, sometimes when we are under a lot of pressure you scream during the rallies and it's hard to stay focused," Swiatek told the crowd. Her intervention was met with cheers, and only a few boos.

"This is serious, we're fighting to be better and better, there's a lot of money to earn here. You can support us between the rallies but not during the rallies, please. "I know the French crowd gets players they don't like and they boo, but I know you love me so let's keep that."

It was not the first time that the Roland Garros faithful, known to show up late for the afternoon matches on the back of long lunches and sometimes pick on players, were in the spotlight for the wrong reasons on Wednesday. Belgian David Goffin accused partisan fans of "total disrespect" and said he had been spat at by a spectator during his marathon first-round victory over local favourite Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard.

"It's really too much. It's becoming football, soon there will be smoke bombs, hooligans and fights in the stands. It's starting to become ridiculous. Some people are there more to cause trouble than to create an atmosphere," Goffin said. Tournament organisers said officials would ensure that fans followed the rules and respected players.

"The public are incredibly enthusiastic, particularly on the outside courts," they said in a statement on Wednesday. "However, they must of course show full respect to all players while doing so."

Only nine matches were expected to be completed on Wednesday with Carlos Alcaraz and former runners-up Stefanos Tsitsipas and Coco Gauff going through to the third round.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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