French Open 2024: Iga Swiatek defeats Naomi Osaka in thriller –as it happened

Estimated read time 7 min read

Naomi Osaka produced her best tennis after becoming a mum only 10 months ago. The powerful ball-striking we expect, but her movement on clay was dazzling. For Swiatek, she was not at her best, but she clung on after almost being blown off the court in that second set. A champion’s quality.

One thing of note: lots of empty seats in Paris. Perhaps it was the dinner-ish timing of this match, but that is a real shame. Those diners will be eating their fists when they realise they missed a contest of this quality! Right, that’s enough from me. Thanks for sticking with us during that epic.

French Open crowd over calling out during play: “When you scream during a rally, it’s really hard to focus … it’s hard to accept that, because the stakes are big. So if you could support us between the rallies but not during. I’m sorry.” She gets applause for that but adds that she hopes it doesn’t cause future crowds in Paris to boo her.French Open.Coco Gauff has walked out on the other court for her late game. The third seed takes on Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia.French Open. Two four-times grand slam winners.

The two players are out on the court at Philippe-Chatrier and will begin their final warm ups.

Iga Swiatek and Naomi Osaka have faced each other twice.

In 2019, Osaka defeated the now world No 1 in Toronto in a close two set match. Three years later, it was Swiatek who got the better of her opponent in the final of the 2022 Miami Open.

Swiatek, of course, heads into this match up as the heavy favourite. Not only is she the best women’s tennis player in the word right now, but clay is her specialty. Three of Swiatek’s grand slam wins have come in Paris and she is currently unbeaten in her last 13 matched on red dirt.

Osaka, on the other hand, has never been past the third round at Roland Garros, nor has she reached the final of any clay-court event. She is currently ranked No 134 in the world and is attempting to make her way back to the top after time away to give birth.

A blockbuster of a match up next.

Up next for Alcaraz, it will either be the American Sebastian Korda, who is seeded 27th, or South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo in the third round.

Carlos Alcaraz says that his match against Jesper De Jong shows that the rankings don’t matter on the court.

This kind of tournament, every player can give you trouble. You have to be focused in every match, every game and every point. It doesn’t matter that I am top of the rankings and you are playing someone outside of the Top 100. The work and the level you show is what matters. I am sure he will break the Top 100.

On when he realised during the match he could not have fun:

In the third set I had to forget about putting on a show and put myself a chance in the rallies. I was in trouble a little bit.

On if the long match was good for him given that he has not played much on clay this season due to his earlier arm injury:

I prefer not to spend too much time on the court but every match is different. It is good for me to get the time but I prefer to spend less hours on the court.

A sigh of relief from Alcaraz before pumping his fists up once De Jong nets his shot on the match point. After three hours and nine minutes, he obviously did not want this to go to five sets.

Thanks Daniel, and hello all. It has been a bit of a nervy one here for Alcaraz but he is now up 5-2 in the third set. De Jong tries to elicit some cheers after a drop shot (the crowd do love an underdog but I think they might love Alcaraz more) but the Spaniard makes him work defensively and it does not fall his way.

Righto, that’s it from me for now – here’s Yara El-Shaboury to chill with you through the next bit.

A moment ago I almost called De Jong “the youngster” by way of inelegant variation to avoid repeating his name, only to realise he’s a coupe of years older than Alcaraz. Which tells us what a freak of nature “the Spaniard” is, but that shouldn’t distract us from the poternial of “the whippersnapper”. If he can recapture this level, rather than make this the performance of his life, he can do plenty, but as I type an Alcaraz forehand winner not only raises two break points but shows us that De Jong is bushed – he tried chasing it, but without the conviction he might get it. And shonuff, another error follows, so Alcaraz now leads 6-3 6-4 2-6 4-2. Oh, and Rublev has just broken Martinez for 5-2 in set one.

On Lenglen, Rublev leads Martinez – who’s beaten Casper Ruud on clay this season – 3-2 on serve.

Alcaraz makes 0-30 then, sent another drop – De Jong has hit loads, perhaps uncovering a weakness – he misses with his pick-up! I’m not sure I’ve seen the world number three play this miserably, and an ace brings us back to 30-all. So we wind up at deuce and De Jong serve-volleys only to dump into the net … then serve a double you coul see coming after the first delivery hit the tape. We’re back on serve at 2-2 in the fourth, but even if Alcaraz progresses, this is the kind of performance that makes you wonder if a player can win a tournament. And I’m certain others will be watching fancying themselves to try the drops that’ve brought De Jong so much joy.

De Jong had the trainer out between sets, working what looked like an ankle, but he seemed fine. And look at him now, breaking again – Alcaraz is struggling mentally here, no longer the happy boy who just enjoys tennis – for 2-1 before calling for help once more.

I wonder if Alcaraz assumed that at 2-0 up, the rest of the match would take care of itself – with good reason, it’s fair to say. But De Jong has maintained his level throughout though, as I type, he sends down a double at 30-all. He’s saved plenty of break points today too, but this time Alcaraz measures his return rather than going for the line, and it elicits the error. We’re back on serve at 1-1 in the fourth.

On Lenglen, Martinez and Rublev are under way.

What on earth is going on?! I’ve was more focused on Jabeur v Osorio the lastbit, for obvious reasons – a decider with a seed in serious trouble – but I did notice Alcaraz overhitting, perhaps sacrificing a set already half-gone to test out his forearm. But he’s not got his rhythm back yet, down break point and again going long on the forehand! De Jong leads 1-0 in the fourth and what a performance this is from him!


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