Tuesday, 24 May 2022 10:25

Swiatek, Djokovic, Nadal stroll at Roland Garros; Osaka, Krejcikova crash out.

Staff Reporter.

(AFP) - Rafael Nadal kicked off his quest for a 14th Roland Garros title with a straight-sets win over Jordan Thompson, but former world No 1 Naomi Osaka and defending champion Barbora Krejcikova tumbled out in the first round Monday.

Nadal, on a quarterfinal collision course with Novak Djokovic, brushed Australia's Thompson aside 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 to improve his Roland Garros record to 106 wins and just three losses since his 2005 title-winning debut.

"I'm very happy with the victory today. I'm happy to get through in three sets," said Nadal, seeded fifth.

"It's a first round, a positive match for me. Straight sets but with significant room for improvement."

The Spaniard, who last week downplayed concerns over the recurrence of a foot injury that plagued him in Rome, meets Corentin Moutet in round two after the French wildcard defeated 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka.

Osaka, the unseeded four-time Grand Slam winner, was knocked out earlier in the day 7-5, 6-4 by Amanda Anisimova – the same player who ended the Japanese star's title defence at the Australian Open this year.

Osaka served eight double faults and committed 29 unforced errors on her return to Roland Garros, after withdrawing in 2021 when she refused to honour mandatory media commitments before revealing she had been suffering from depression.

"I thought I tried really hard, and I just feel like it was a bit unfortunate because I wasn't able to play as many matches leading into this tournament," said Osaka.

Anisimova, the 27th seed, reached the semifinals in Paris three years ago.

"It's tough to see Naomi Osaka in the first round so I knew it wouldn't be easy," said the American.

"I knew I had to play my best tennis and the conditions were not easy."

As rain stopped play on the outside courts for two hours, Krejcikova followed Osaka through the exit door, going down 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 to 19-year-old Frenchwoman Diane Parry in her first match since February following injury.

The Czech world No 2 had yet to play on clay this season after being sidelined by an elbow problem.

"I just think I just collapsed physically, and, I mean, it was tough because I didn't play the matches," said Krejcikova, who is set to drop out of the top 10.

Swaitek backs up favourite tag

Iga Swiatek, the favourite for the women's title, stretched her winning streak to 29 matches by dispatching Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 6-0 in 54 minutes.

The 20-year-old Swiatek, who took over as world No 1 following Ashleigh Barty's shock retirement, has won her last five tournaments and is bidding for a second French Open in three attempts.

"Today was a pretty good match," said Swiatek.

"I love playing here even though the last couple of days it's been raining and pretty dark."

Swiatek is unbeaten since February and has the longest winning streak on the WTA tour since Serena Williams won 34 matches in a row in 2013.

"I'm pretty sure that it can end, but I just want to keep going. I'm sure someday my streak will stop."

Djokovic makes easy winning return to Grand Slams

Defending champion Novak Djokovic cruised into the second of the French Open on Monday as the world No 1 returned to Grand Slam tennis for the first time this year.

Djokovic thumped 99th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 under the roof of Court Philippe Chatrier.