World no. 1 Naomi Osaka had to work hard for the second time in Paris, ousting Victoria Azarenka 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in two hours 50 minutes to advance into the third round for the third time. There were 25 break points up for grabs and Naomi delivered five breaks, suffering four breaks to cross the finish line first and celebrate the 16th straight Grand Slam win, seeking the third consecutive title after already conquering the US Open and the Australian Open.
The Japanese blasted 52 winners and 43 unforced errors in what has been one of the matches of the tournament so far, staying in touch in set number two and racing towards the finish line with a strong performance in the decider.
Just like against Schmiedlova, Naomi was off to slow start, getting broken in games one and three and falling 5-1 down after only 22 minutes. Victoria gave serve away in the eighth game before sealing the opening set with a service winner in game ten after 40 minutes.
The second set saw an even more intense battle and it lasted for almost 80 minutes, drawing the best from both players who pushed each other to the limits all the time. Azarenka moved ahead with a break in game five and the result was squared up when Naomi pulled it back at 3-4, scoring another break at 6-5 following a backhand down the line winner to take the set 7-5 and gain the momentum ahead of the final set.
She saved three break points in the opening game of the third set and took the advantage with a forehand winner in game four, increasing the lead with a break at love in game six, wasting a match point on own serve in the next game.
Azarenka reduced the deficit to 5-3 with a fine hold and created a break point in game nine that could have turned the things around drastically. Naomi fended it off and converted the third match point with a service winner after almost three hours of entertaining tennis.