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Spain's Carlos Alcaraz Garfia plays a forehand return to Dutch Jesper De Jong during their men's singles match on Court Philippe-Chatrier on day four of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex in Paris on Wednesday. Image Credit: AFP

Paris: Carlos Alcaraz needed four sets to reach the third round of the French Open on Wednesday ahead of a blockbuster clash between defending champion Iga Swiatek and Naomi Osaka as persistent rain caused widespread disruption to the tournament.

Alcaraz weathered a third-set blip against world No 176 Jesper de Jong before the Spaniard came through 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 under the roof on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Wimbledon champion Alcaraz arrived in Paris with doubts over his fitness after a right forearm injury sidelined him for almost a month.

After dropping just four games in his Roland Garros opener, third seed Alcaraz looked to be cruising against De Jong, a Dutchman taking part in only his second Grand Slam main draw, but he was ultimately made to work harder than expected.

The 21-year-old Alcaraz was broken five times and hit 47 unforced errors before De Jong, playing his fifth match at the tournament, eventually wilted.

“Every player can cause you trouble,” said Alcaraz.

“You have to be focused in every round, have to play at your best, it doesn’t matter what the ranking is. Jesper has the work and level to break into the top 100.”

Alcaraz goes on to face either American 27th seed Sebastian Korda or South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo for a place in the last 16.

Former French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the last 32 for the sixth straight year with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4 win over Germany’s Daniel Altmaier.

Sofia Kenin, runner-up in 2020, became the first woman through to round three after dispatching French No 1 Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-3 as play on all but the main two courts was called off for the day around 1500 GMT.

The action on Court Simonne Mathieu and the other outside courts had been interrupted for five hours since just before midday local time before the decision came to call off 23 singles matches.

Eighth seed Ons Jabeur overcame Colombia’s Camila Osorio in three sets in the other completed second-round tie.

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Japan's Naomi Osaka in action during her second round match against Poland's Iga Swiatek. Image Credit: Reuters

Osaka meets Swiatek

Osaka says she is “really excited” to face red-hot tournament favourite Swiatek later on Wednesday, when men’s title contender Jannik Sinner is also in action.

Former world No 1 Osaka won a match at a Grand Slam event for the first time since the 2022 Australian Open with her opening victory over Lucia Bronzetti.

The Japanese star returned earlier this year after a 16-month hiatus from tennis to start a family.

Osaka has never got past the third round at Roland Garros, with all four of her Grand Slam titles having come on hard courts in Australia and the United States.

She will be a big underdog against Swiatek in the pair’s first ever meeting on clay and only third match on any surface.

Swiatek is bidding to become only the fourth woman in the Open era to lift four Roland Garros titles and just the second — after Serena Williams — to complete the clay-court treble of Madrid, Rome and French Opens in the same season.

“I’m honestly really excited. I watched her a lot when I was pregnant,” said Osaka of her opponent.

“And honestly, I think it’s an honour to play her in the French Open, because she’s won more than once here, for sure. It’s a very big honour and challenge for me.”

Osaka won her first meeting with a then-teenage Swiatek in Toronto in 2019, while the Pole came out on top in their other clash in the 2022 Miami Open final.

The 22-year-old Swiatek is not going to take anything for granted against Osaka, who showed flashes of her best form in Rome earlier this month, knocking out seeds Marta Kostyuk and Daria Kasatkina en route to the last 16.

“The matches that we played on hard court were always really intense and tough,” said the current world number one.

“So I’m just glad that she came back and she’s playing more tournaments even than before the break.

“Nowadays in the women’s draw you can play Grand Slam champions early in the tournament.”

Men’s second seed Sinner will have to quieten the French crowd when he faces home favourite Richard Gasquet in the night session match.

The Australian Open champion arrived at the tournament under an injury cloud after withdrawing from Madrid and skipping Rome with a hip problem.

Sinner cruised to a first-round win over Christopher Eubanks, though, and insisted he was feeling close to full fitness.

“The hip is good, I’m very happy,” he said. “The general shape isn’t at 100 per cent yet so we’re trying to build every day.”