PARIS, France — Former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus notched her first Roland Garros victory since 2015 by overcoming 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, 6-4, 7-6(5), in the opening round on Tuesday.
Azarenka reached the semifinals in Paris in 2013 for her best tournament showing, but her last match-win at the event came in the second round four years ago, before falling to Serena Williams in the third round that year. Since then, Azarenka retired with injury in the first round in 2016, missed the 2017 edition, and lost to Katerina Siniakova in last year’s opener.
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The Belarusian, though, was able to pick up a win after withstanding the breakneck power of Ostapenko in their first-ever meeting, after an hour and 45 minutes of play. Ostapenko famously raced to the 2017 trophy as an unseeded player, but has now fallen in the first round twice since then.
World No.43 Azarenka eked out the win with seven breaks out of 14 break points, and while she was out-winnered by World No.39 Ostapenko to the tune of 33 to 12, the Latvian came undone via 60 unforced errors during the tilt, including 17 double faults.
Azarenka’s draw will stay tricky, as she will face either World No.1 Naomi Osaka or clay-court maven Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the second round.