Naomi Osaka let her tennis do the talking by defeating Patricia Maria Tig in straight sets to progress to the second round at Roland Garros.
Osaka announced ahead of the tournament that she would not be taking part in any interviews during the duration of the tournament because she wanted to protect her mental health and take a stand against the impact of interviews on the psychological welfare of players.
Questions were asked if it would actually benefit her performances. For now, it seems like it is having a positive impact after a fine display on the opening day. However, following her first round victory, Osaka took the part in the usual on-court interview with the winner.
She said, “My movement on clay is a work in progress. If I keep playing more matches, hopefully it will get better.”
Having missed last year’s French Open with a hamstring injury, she has not had an ideal time to prepare for this year’s tournament having only three matches under her belt on clay after early defeats in Madrid and Rome.
Second seed Osaka won 6-4 7-6 (7-4) against Romanian Tig on court Philippe Chatrier to kick-off her quest for a first French Open title. The 23-year-old hit 20 winners in a mostly dominant first set but was made to work harder in the second before her quality shone through in the tie-break. It was the second career meeting between the pair since their first bow in 2015.
Time will tell if the Japanese star’s performances will be strengthened without the pressures of dealing with the media as she will look to get past the third round at Roland Garros for the first time.
The four-time Grand Slam winner was switched on from the beginning although there were some rough moments against world number 63 Tig. Her returns were strong and her good movement allowed her to break to a 2-0 lead, before extending it to 4-1 and 5-2.
Both players were fairly comfortable with their service game in the second set, with Tig saving breakpoints at 2-1 and 6-5, as it led to an almost inevitable tie-break.
Osaka assumed control in the tie-break with a perfectly executed backhand down the line for a 4-2 lead. A brief lapse gave a sense of hope for her opponent who played well, but Osaka was able to edge the decisive moments of the set and seal the victory.
The world number two is set to face another Romanian, Ana Bogden, in the next round. This result meant Osaka’s Grand Slam winning run had been extended to 15 matches.