Osaka Withdrawal Overshadows Early Stages in Paris

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The French Open is in full swing in Paris but there have already been some big-name departures, most notably world number two Naomi Osaka.

French Open

The French Open is in full swing in Paris but there have already been some big-name departures, most notably world number two Naomi Osaka.

Osaka’s decision not to do news conferences in the French capital caused uproar.

The four-time Grand Slam champion did take to the court on Sunday and won her opening match against Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig in straight sets.

However, she was then fined $15,000 (£10,570) for not doing post-match media and later that day a joint statement from Grand Slam organisers said Osaka could face expulsion from the tournament if she continued to avoid them.

That led to Osaka confirming her withdrawal from the tournament on Monday and she said she “never wanted to be a distraction” in a statement.

Osaka’s departure means Ana Bogdan is through to the third round with a walkover win. It may also provide a boost to home hopeful Caroline Garcia as she had been in the same section as the second seed, with Garcia now rated at 14/1 to win her quarter.

Defending Champion Progresses

Defending champion Iga Swiatek secured her spot in the second round with a convincing 6-0 7-5 victory over Kaja Juvan on Monday.

Swiatek, celebrating her 20th birthday, is the eighth seed but is rated as the 7/4 favourite to win the tournament, and she looks to have a fairly comfortable route out of her section and into the quarter-finals after 12th seed and 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza’s first-round exit.

Top seed Ashleigh Barty is due on court against Croatian-born American Bernarda Pera on Tuesday. Barty is rated at 9/2 to win the French Open outright and Serena Williams is a 20/1 chance after opening her account with a straight sets win over Irina-Camelia Begu.

Thiem Suffers Early Exit

The men’s draw has thrown up a real possibility of a first-time Grand Slam champion as the ‘Big Three’ of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are all in the top half of the draw.

One man who could have benefitted was Dominic Thiem but the two-time finalist slumped to a shock first-round exit at the hands of Spanish veteran Pablo Andujar in five sets on Sunday.

Thiem was the only man in the bottom half of the draw who had won a Grand Slam title previously, having landed the US Open last year.

That means there will be at least one player in the men’s final who is seeking a first major victory. Daniil Medvedev is 40/1 to win the title in Paris, Alexander Zverev is 12/1 and Stefanos Tsitsipas is 15/4, with all three in the bottom half.

Djokovic and Nadal on Court on Tuesday

Tsitsipas and Zverev may see a route to the final, but chances are they will come up against one of the megastars in the final and we will get our first sights of 13-time winner Rafael Nadal and world number one Novak Djokovic on Tuesday.

Djokovic comes up against American Tennys Sandgren in what should be a straightforward assignment for the top seed. Sandgren is competing in France for the fifth year in a row, but he has managed just one win in five matches in Paris.

Nadal, the third seed, will take on Australian youngster Alexei Popyrin in his first match. The 21-year-old reached the second round on his debut in 2019 but lost in the first round last year.

*All odds correct at time of writing

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