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31.05.2019 Tennis

Osaka fights past Azarenka to reach French Open third round

By Paul Myers - RFI
RFI/Pierre René-Worms
MAY 31, 2019 TENNIS

Top seed Naomi Osaka battled into the third round of the French Open on Thursday with a three set win over the former world number one Victoria Azarenka.

The 21-year-old lost the first set and was a break down in the second but she recovered to take the match 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 after two hours and 50 minutes.

"I was lucky to have played her twice before,” said Osaka. “I knew she had been playing well coming into the tournament. It was an unfortunate second round for me so I am happy to win."

Azarenka, who is 43rd in the world after taking time out to have a baby, knocked out the 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko in the first round.

That it took nearly three hours for the top seed to dispatch her showed, she said, that she was on the way back to the top of her game.

“I'm sitting here with a loss but I know what I need to do better,” said Azarenka. “No matter how hard it is, it's my path that I'm going to walk with my head held high and I'm going to do everything I can until the moment where I decide I'm not interested in that anymore.

"But until then, I'm going to keep fighting and keep improving. And as long as it keeps going that way, I have no doubt that I'm going to achieve things that I want to”

Elsewhere in the women's draw, 10th seed Serena Williams breezed into the third round past the qualifier Kurumi Nara 6-3 6-2. The eighth seed Ashleigh Barty also progressed along with the 15th seed Belinda Bencic.