Paris | Swiatek storms out of the blocks

Early on Monday, defending champion Iga Swiatek kicked off her Roland Garros title defence with a statement win over French qualifier Léolia Jeanjean, and was joined in round 2 by high seeds Coco Gauff, Marketa Vondrousova, Ons Jabeur and Danielle Collins.

I'm really proud of my achievements, it's always been my favourite surface for me, it gives me the most pleasure. For sure, I'll be watching Rafa's match, but being compared to him, I'm not at that level yet, I still have many things to improve. He's a great person, he's a great athlete, he's shown that for many, many years and I'm just at the beginning. I'll do my best to take some lessons from him to be a good person and a good player. Iga Świątek, 'Queen of Clay'

It was the World No 1’s 13th match win in a row after storming past Jeanjean, 6-1 6-2, to win her 15th consecutive match in Paris, where she has already lifted the trophy 3 times in the last 4 years.

The 22-year-old Pole broke in the very first game of the match, her returns pinning Jeanjean back and crushing a forehand return to glance the left tramline, signalling her intent.

Break point down at 3-1, Swiatek launched left and swatted a winner to reassert her dominance.

The Pole converted all 3 break chance to sweep the opening set in 30 minutes flat.

Jeanjean gave the Chatrier crowd something to cheer at the start of the second set, though, when the Frenchwoman chalked up her an immediate break, but Swiatek, un-rattled, simply recalibrated and regained the initiative, reversing a 30-0 deficit in the following game to break back.

She won 10 straight points to put herself a game from the finish line, striking a powerful forehand to set up 3 match points, and converting with a backhand into the open court.

While Swiatek’s 26 winners and 18 unforced errors may not have been the cleanest for the ultimate perfectionist, the Pole maintains her winning streak in Paris off the back of collecting the WTA 1000 titles in Madrid and Rome.

“It feels like home here,” she said. “For sure, these last tournaments gave me a lot. I managed to play good tennis in any conditions, in any circumstances, I’m really proud of myself, I don’t want to take anything for granted.

“Every tournament is a different story, a different chapter and I’ll be just focused on the next match.”

The top seed has been making adjustments to her serve to enhance her delivery in the hope of creating more pop on the ball, and better placement.

“Next goal is to keep my serve at a consistent level throughout the whole season,” she said during Roland-Garros Media Day. “We’ll see how that’s going to go.

“We are working hard for the movement to be smooth, and to get muscle memory, so even under the biggest pressure and stress, I’m going to be serving the same way… I feel, like, I have more options, when I’m serving.”

Swiatek landed 73% per cent of first serves and won 78% per cent of those points, but her second serve offered Jeanjean a means of attack, with the Pole only claiming 50% of those.

3-time Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek has been dubbed the 'Queen of Clay' but says it is too early

© Clive Mason/Getty Images

Marion Bartoli hailed her as the ‘Queen of Clay’ during the on-court interview, but Swiatek is keen to play down the nickname.

“I think it’s too early,” she said. “I’m really proud of my achievements, it’s always been my favourite surface for me, it gives me the most pleasure.

“For sure, I’ll be watching Rafa’s match, but being compared to him, I’m not at that level yet, I still have many things to improve.

“He’s a great person, he’s a great athlete, he’s shown that for many, many years and I’m just at the beginning. I’ll do my best to take some lessons from him to be a good person and a good player.”

Awaiting Swiatek in the 2nd-round is Naomi Osaka, who matches her for total majors won but has historically struggled on clay.

“Really impressed,” said Swiatek of Osaka’s return from maternity leave. “I think she’s a great person, and her game style is pretty fun to watch as well. I haven’t actually played against Naomi on clay, so we’ll see how that’s gonna go.

“We need to prepare tactically, for sure. But all these matches that we played on hard court were always really intense and tough. So I’m just glad that she came back, and she’s playing more tournaments even than before the break.”

Ons Jabeur, who was a straight sets winner over wild-card Sachia Vickery, is looking for a deep run at Roland Garros this year

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In the opening match on Chatrier, Ons Jabeur, the No 8 seed from Tunisia, kicked off her campaign with a solid 6-3 6-2 defeat of American wild-card Sachia Vickery in an hour and 21 minutes under the closed roof.

The 3-time Grand Slam finalist has suffered a stop-start first half of the season with injuries, particularly a long-term knee issue besetting her and comes into Paris with just 6 wins under her belt to her 9 losses.

A quarter-final run in Madrid offered hope of a turn-around, but Jabeur’s run in that tournament ended with a 3rd-set collapse against Madison Keys, followed by an opening exit in Rome to Sofia Kenin.

“I aim for a deep run,” she said. “I did a wonderful preparation. I practiced a lot, and I never dropped a set during practice sessions. I hope that I will see that again on the major courts, such as Philippe Chatrier, and I hope to get the upper hand every time. But I will see it point after point, ball after ball, game after game, and we’ll see.”

She threw a number of drop-shots at Vickery, which increased as the match went on, testimony to Jabeur’s growing confidence, who repeatedly deployed them directly off the return, invariably with success.

“I managed my drop-shots well,” she said. “It has always helped me to overwhelm the opponent, to prevent my opponent from going to the net.”

Jabeur had lost to Vickery in their only previous meeting, in the 1st-round of the 2018 Chicago WTA 125 event, back when she was ranked outside the Top 100, but the Tunisian got off to a quick start in each set, capturing the American serve at the first opportunity both times.

She was able to keep her nose in front throughout, dropping her own delivery only once, and facing just one other break point outside that game.

In total, she tallied 30 winners to 28 unforced errors.

Jabeur now faces Bogota champion Camila Osorio, who advanced when Anhelina Kalinina was forced to retire trailing 3-6 7-6(2), 4-1.

Osorio had saved triple match point when Kalinina served at 6-5 in the second set.

Jabeur was victorious in both of their previous career meetings, both of which took place at the US Open in 2021 and 2023.

Coco Gauff, the No 3 seed, cruised past Julia Avdeeva with the loss of just 2 games on Monday in Paris

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Americans Coco Gauff and Danielle Collins both won their 1st-round matches in straight sets on a rainy Monday in Paris over Julia Avdeeva and Caroline Dolehide, respectively.

On a rainy Monday in Paris, Gauff, the No 3 seed and 2022 runner-up, breezed past Avdeeva, a Russian qualifier, 6-1 6-3 in 53 minutes, while Collins, who has announced that 2024 will be her final season on tour, defeated countrywoman Caroline Dolehide, 6-3 6-4.

“Today was, kind of, a straightforward match,” Gauff said in her post-match press conference. “I didn’t have to do much. I wouldn’t say I, like, played amazing. I just had to play solid today. That’s what I did.”

The 20-year-old has struggled with her serve for much of the clay-court season, regularly racking up double-digit double-faults at both the Mutua Madrid Open and the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, but she coughed up only 4 against Avdeeva, evening it out with 3 aces and the loss of just one point behind her first serve.

“I tend to go down on my left side on my serve, which causes a lot of double-faults,” Gauff explained in press. “So, I think just trying to keep that left side up and just adjusting how I toss the ball, those are the two main things.”

Standing between her and a spot in the 3rd-round is dangerous qualifier Tamara Zidansek from Slovenia, who made the semi-finals in Paris back in 2021.

Meanwhile, the No. 11-seeded Collins booked a Mutua Madrid Open rematch with another qualifier, Olga Danilovic from Serbia, who pushed her to a 3rd-set tiebreak at the Caja Magica last month.

At 30 years old, Collins has been on fire since winning the Miami Open in March, backing that up with a second straight title at the Credit One Charleston Open, and reaching the semi-finals in Rome.

Last week she finished runner-up at the Internationaux de Strasbourg, losing to childhood friend Madison Keys but rejoining the Top 10 for the first time since July 2022.

Against Dolehide, she struck 27 winners to 19 unforced errors and broke serve 3 times to edge over the finish line in 85 minutes.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova was an easy winner over Rebeka Masarova

© Bertrand Guay/AFP via Getty Images

Czech 5th seed Marketa Vondrousova came out firing from all cylinders as the reigning Wimbledon champion started her match against Rebeka Masarova with back-to-back breaks and a dominant 5-0 lead.

In the 6th game, the Czech had a set point to bagel but the Spaniard managed to save it and got herself on the board.

Masarova then earned her first break points of the match, but Vondrousova saved them both and converted on her second set point to seal the opener.

At the start of the second, Masarova managed to hold her opening service games without a point lost, but it didn’t take long before Vondrousova went on a big run again, as the Czech claimed back-to-back breaks for a 4-1 lead.

Masarova clawed one break back, and later had 3 break points to get back into the second set but Vondrousova survived that game to go 5-3 up, and broke the Spaniard to love to win the match, 6-1 6-3.



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