Sun, 24 Sep 2023

PARIS, May 28 (Xinhua) -- World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas avoided a five-setter in his French Open opener on Sunday, saving four set points in the fourth and beating World No. 455 Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic, 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7).

The Greek was tested after pocketing the first two sets as Vesely broke for a set-winning in the 10th game of the third and surged to a 6-3 lead in the tiebreak in the fourth.

"He was a difficult obstacle today, I won't lie," said Tsitsipas, runner-up in Paris in 2021.

But the 24-year-old adjusted himself quickly, moving up point by point to level the score at 6-6, saving another set point at 7-6 before winning three points in a row to seal the victory at 9-7.

"He gave me a hard time. I'm happy I overcame it in such a fashion. I was able to bounce back from all those difficulties that were being thrown at me constantly. Today's win is very important for me," said Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas will next face Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain or American qualifier Emilio Nava.

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus kicked off her clay-court major with a winning start, coming from an early break down to defeat Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk 6-3, 6-2 in the opening match on the Philippe Chatrier court.

Kostyuk made a good start as she broke first in the fifth game of the first set to take a 3-2 lead, but the world No. 2 responded right away to break back in the sixth before winning another three games in a row to take the first set.

"Emotionally, I was a little bit nervous at the beginning," Sabalenka said. "I was just trying to keep fighting, keep finding my rhythm, keep adjusting to the court."

The 25-year-old continued her dominance in the second, surging into a 5-1 lead by breaking twice in the first and fifth games. Although Kostyuk held one in the seventh to claw back to 5-2 and even forced two break points in the eighth, Sabalenka was calm enough to win five straight points to secure the match.

This result extends Sabalenka's 2023 record to 30-5. She has reached at least the quarterfinals in seven of the eight tournaments she has contested prior to Roland Garros and the final in five of them.

The second seed, who is seeking her first appearance at the second week at Roland Garros, will next play qualifier Iryna Shymanovich.

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