Naomi Osaka walks the talk with first-round victory against Patricia Maria Tig
Naomi Osaka did her talking on the court with a first-round victory over Patricia Maria Tig at the French Open.
Osaka’s decision not to do any press during the tournament was the biggest talking point during the build-up to the year’s second grand slam, with the four-time grand slam champion citing mental health reasons.
She admits to not being completely comfortable on clay, and she has never been beyond the third round at Roland Garros, but the second seed avoided any real drama in a 6-4 7-6 (4) victory over Romanian Tig.
Despite her media snub, Osaka did take part in a short and rather awkward on-court interview for the few hundred fans allowed into Court Philippe Chatrier.
“I’m very glad that I won,” said the 23-year-old, who skipped the tournament last year after winning her third slam title at the US Open.
“It’s a very beautiful court. I’ve only played two matches here, one was before the roof and one is right now. Hopefully I’ll keep it going.”
Regarding her movement on clay, Osaka, who next meets another Romanian in Ana Bogdan, said: “I would say it’s a work in progress. Hopefully the more I play, the better I’ll get.”
Petra Kvitova, a semi-finalist last year, saved a match point in the second set against Greet Minnen before coming through 6-7 (3) 7-6 (5) 6-1.
Angelique Kerber has won titles at the other three slams but her chances of completing the set appear remote after a third successive first-round loss.
The German, twice a quarter-finalist in Paris, was beaten 6-2 6-4 by a very in-form player in qualifier Anhelina Kalinina, who has now won her last 14 matches.
American Danielle Collins, who is back on tour after undergoing surgery for endometriosis, battled to a 6-2 4-6 6-4 victory over China’s Wang Xiyu.
Russian Elena Vesnina, meanwhile, defeated Olga Govortsova 6-1 6-0 in her first singles match at a grand slam since taking maternity leave in 2018.