June 16th, 2024

Iga Swiatek saves a match point and comes back to beat Naomi Osaka at the French Open

By Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press on May 29, 2024.

PARIS (AP) – Iga Swiatek saved a match point and grabbed the last five games to sneak past Naomi Osaka 7-6 (1), 1-6, 7-5 in the second round of the French Open on Wednesday night in a riveting contest between the current No. 1 and a former No. 1 who both own four Grand Slam titles.

For Swiatek, this extended her Roland Garros winning streak to 16 matches as she pursues a third consecutive trophy at the clay-court major tournament. For Osaka, who let a 5-2 lead in the concluding set slip away, this amounted to an announcement that she is still capable of elite tennis.

They went back-and-forth for more than 2 1/2 hours as rain loudly pelted the outside of the closed roof at Court Philippe Chatrier – showers forced the postponements of 23 singles matches until Thursday – and a riveted, if hardly full, crowd alternated their support between the two players. Sometimes, spectators called out before a point was done, prompting admonishment from chair umpire AurĂ©lie Tourte.

Osaka served for the victory at 5-3 in the final set, and held a match point there, but she put a backhand into the net. Soon, when Osaka missed another backhand, this one long, Swiatek finally converted a break point on her 10th chance of that set, and they played on.

Maybe the lack of high-level matches caught up to Osaka, because she continued to fade, her mistakes mounting, including a double-fault to hand over another break that put Swiatek in control 6-5 before holding serve one last time to emerge with a difficult victory.

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis

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