Osaka and Halep wob­ble but hit back to go through

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - French Open - By Si­mon Briggs

World No1 Naomi Osaka is go­ing for her third straight ma­jor ti­tle this fort­night, but you would not have known it from the way she squeaked through a nerve-rack­ing first-round match 0-6, 7-6, 6-1.

Hav­ing played so poorly for the first hour that she might have been swing­ing a fry­ing pan, Osaka en­joyed a let-off when Anna Karolina Sch­miedlova botched two op­por­tu­ni­ties to serve for the match.

“I think this is the most ner­vous I have ever been my en­tire life dur­ing a match,” said Osaka, who won only nine points in los­ing the first set to love. “I was lit­er­ally not hit­ting any balls in the court. I wasn’t sure what was go­ing on when the ball went off my racket. Today was weird be­cause usu­ally the nerves go away, but it kind of stayed the en­tire match. Then I just felt like it was a fight of willpower.”

Once Osaka had com­pleted her task, de­fend­ing cham­pion Si­mona Halep also moved through, though she too dropped a set in her 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 win over Ajla Toml­janovic.

Mean­while, Croa­tia’s Ivo Karlovic be­came the old­est man to win a match at the French Open for 45 years as he beat Spain’s fel­low veteran Feli­ciano Lopez in the first round. Karlovic, who turned 40 in Fe­bru­ary, won a match fea­tur­ing play­ers with a com­bined age of 77 – the old­est in a Grand Slam in the pro­fes­sional era.

The Croa­t­ian be­came the old­est male player to win a Grand Slam match since Ken Rose­wall, aged 44, at the 1978 Aus­tralian Open.

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