World no. 1 Naomi Osaka came to Paris seeking the third straight Grand Slam title but she barely avoided the first-round loss, ousting world no. 90 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 0-6, 7-6, 6-1 in an hour and 54 minutes for the 15th straight Grand Slam win.
Struggling with form and injuries after Melbourne, Osaka won just ten matches between the Australian Open and Roland Garros, having to withdraw from Rome with right hand injury. Osaka certainly performed like a troubled player in the opener, taking only nine points and suffering a bagel against the opponent who lost the last nine Grand Slam matches and who scored the previous Roland Garros win five years ago!
As was expected, the Japanese had more winners but also more errors, some of those in the pivotal moments that could have cost her the victory in the end. Schmiedlova pushed hard in sets one and two, staying away from winners but from mistakes too, opting to keep the ball in play and wait for loose shots from world no.
1 who needed time to wake up and start hitting with more precision. That could have been too late, though, with Anna Karolina serving for the match at 5-4 and 6-5 in the second set, overcoming an early deficit and standing strong in front of straight sets triumph.
As it turned out, it wasn't to be for her, with Naomi breaking back twice to set up a tie break that she won 7-4, gaining a massive boost ahead of the decider where we all know the outcome. With the momentum on her side, Osaka grabbed the last six games of the match, taking a decider 6-1 and rattling off the last 11 points to march into the second round, mighty relieved after performing an impressive comeback to stay in contention.