Osaka got over the line (Picture: Corbis via Getty Images)Naomi Osaka confessed she was the ‘most nervous’ she had ever been in a match during her ‘entire life’ and that she couldn’t shake them off as she narrowly avoided a shock French Open exit.
The Japanese was just two points away from a first-round loss to world No. 90 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova but her opponent failed to serve the contest out twice as Osaka, who was bagelled in the first set, survived.
‘I mean, for me I think this is the most nervous I have ever been my entire life during a match,’ she said after the 0-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 win. ‘I think you could see that in the first set. I was literally not hitting any balls in the court.
Osaka avoided a shock defeat (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)‘For me, today was weird because usually the nerves go away, but it kind of stayed the entire match. Then I just felt like it was a fight of willpower. Yeah, I managed to win in the end, so…’
Asked why she felt so nervous, she added: ‘I mean, I can give you logical reasons, but I’m not really a logical person. So it might be something else.
‘Logical reasons, first time playing a Grand Slam as No. 1. Won the last two, so I kind of want to win this one really bad.
‘I have never played on Chatrier before. This was my first time. And, yeah, I kind of feel like I’m having the thought of wanting to prove myself again, so…’
Two-time Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka is Osaka’s next opponent, which will provide a stiff test of her credentials.
Azarenka will take on Osaka next (Picture: Getty Images)And while she confessed she didn’t realise she would be facing the Belarusian – who beat former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets earlier on Tuesday – next, she is is expecting ‘one of the hardest matches’ of her season so far.
She smiled: ‘I didn’t know that. Okay. I have played her last year on clay.
‘I don’t know. I mean, she’s been playing really well recently, and there is no way that it’s going to be a similar match to the one I played her in Rome last year.
‘So I’m expecting, like, one of the hardest matches of the year. And other than that, I don’t really know too much, because you sort of – you’re the one that sprung that on me.
Simona Halep advanced to round two (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)Like Osaka, Simona Halep also dropped a set, although the Romanian never came quite so close to losing.
In an odd match, the defending champion stormed ahead against Ajla Tomljanovic but suffered a dip in form in the second set.
However, she recaptured her first-set form in the decider and ultimately eased to a relatively straightforward 6-2 3-6 6-1 victory.