Paris: Naomi Osaka staged a second successive Roland Garros great escape on Thursday as fellow top seed Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams strolled into the last 32. World number one Osaka, bidding to add the French Open to her US and Australian Open titles, came back from a set and 2-4 down to defeat former world number one Victoria Azarenka 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. “I was lucky to have played Victoria twice before. I knew she had been playing well coming into the tournament,” said Osaka. “It was an unfortunate second round draw for me so I am happy to win.”
She becomes the first top seed to win her two opening matches at Roland Garros after losing the first set since Lindsay Davenport in 2005. Siniakova, the world number 42, also endured a marathon win, putting out Greek 29th seed Maria Sakkari 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (8/10), 6-3 in a three-hour 10-minute duel. Djokovic cruised into the last 32 for the 14th successive year, admitting it had been an emotional day playing for the first time in front of his four-year-old son. Djokovic, bidding to become just the second man to hold all four Slams at the same time twice, cruised to a 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 win over Swiss lucky loser Henri Laaksonen.
Three-time French Open champion Williams thrashed Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara to step up her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title. The 37-year-old cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 victory and next faces fellow American Sofia Kenin. A mouthwatering quarter-final clash with Osaka, who famously beat Williams in a dramatic 2018 US Open final, remains a possibility.