Former winners Simona Halep, Jelena Ostapenko advance at French Open

Romania's Simona Halep has defeated Germany's Nastasja Schunk in the French Open first round.

Romania's Simona Halep has defeated Germany's Nastasja Schunk in the French Open first round. Photo: EPA

Former winners Simona Halep and Jelena Ostapenko have both reached the second round of the French Open, avoiding the fate of holder Barbora Krejcikova and 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza.

The pair will be joined in the second round by last year’s Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova, who came through a tricky tie on Tuesday, and this year’s Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins.

Halep eventually turned on the style in a strange match against 18-year-old German lucky loser Nastasja Schunk.

Having won the first set 6-4 she lost the second 1-6 before reversing that score in the third.

“Last year I didn’t play, so I really missed it. I’m actually happy with the victory, even if it was difficult,” Halep said.

“She was playing super well in the second set. She was hitting the ball strong and I didn’t have a response. In the end I stayed focused and stayed strong, and I’m really happy I finished this match. It’s always tough the first round.”

Ostapenko, the 2017 champion, ended a five-match losing streak with a 6-1 6-4 win over Lucia Bronzetti to advance to meet Alize Cornet, who saw off Japan’s Misaki Doi in straight sets, 6-2 6-0.

Pliskova had to dig deep to avoid joining Monday’s culled seeds, coming back from a set and a break down against home hope Tessah Andrianjafitrimo.

The Czech No.8 seed eventually prevailed 2-6 6-3 6-1.

Collins made a strong start to her Paris campaign, cruising past lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova 6-0 6-4.

Third seed Paula Badosa made quick work of French wildcard Fiona Ferro winning 6-2 6-0 in under an hour and boost her confidence following a dip in form earlier this month.

“Every match helps. Every minute on court helps,” Badosa said.

“I’m happy that nobody noticed how nervous I was on court … I was moving a little bit slow, and I needed a few games to get used to all the situation, but I’m happy that I managed that very well.”

Madison Keys came from a break down in the deciding set to close out a 6-3 3-6 6-4 win over Anna Kalinskaya. She will play home favourite Caroline Garcia, who beat Taylor Townsend in straight sets.

In the last first-round match of the tournament, Aryna Sabalenka was a set away from becoming the fifth top-10 seed to depart in the opening round. But the seventh seed turned her match around against French hope Chloe Paquet, prevailing 2-6 6-3 6-4.

Meanwhile, US Open champion Emma Raducanu was bundled out in the second round, losing 3-6 6-1 6-1 to inspired Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

The 12th seeded Briton, who had to dig deep in her opening match to come from a set down to beat Czech qualifier Linda Noskova, was surprised by world No.47 Sasnovich’s attacking power.

Another Belarusian through to the next round was Viktoria Azarenka, who knocked out Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.

Former world No.1 Azarenka prevailed 6-1 7-6 (7-3) against the 34-year-old, winning the first set in just 34 minutes.

Petkovic hit back with a break of serve in the second set and wasted a set point at 5-4 before Azarenka stormed back.

Azarenka and Sasnovich are banned from playing at Wimbledon next month due to Belarus’ support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

-with agencies

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