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Poland's Iga Swiatek plays a backhand return to Japan's Naomi Osaka during their women'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: Defending champion Iga Swiatek was pushed to the brink by fellow four-times Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka but secured a 7-6(1) 1-6 7-5 victory after saving a match point in a high-voltage second-round match at Roland Garros on Wednesday.

Top seed Swiatek’s clay prowess makes her a firm favourite against anyone but the 22-year-old, who entered the contest on the back of 13 wins and titles in Madrid and Rome, faced huge pressure and was a point away from dropping the first set.

In testing conditions under the roof on Philippe Chatrier, the powerful Osaka posed a litany of problems in one of her best matches since coming back this year from a maternity break, but did not capitalise while up 40-30 at 5-4, hitting a shot long.

Three-times champion Swiatek raised her level and ran away with the opening set in the tiebreak but the Pole found herself trailing 4-0 in the next set as the 26-year-old Osaka shrugged off any disappointment to comfortably level the contest.

Osaka saved two break points to hold at the start of the decider and fired a sublime backhand crosscourt winner in the next game to pounce for a 2-0 lead, which the Japanese player extended on serve after another almighty battle.

A rattled Swiatek clawed her way back from 5-2 down and saved a match point before taking full advantage of late errors from a nervy Osaka’s racket to complete a famous victory and avoid her earliest exit from the Grand Slam.

Gauff beats Zidansek

American Coco Gauff rolled past Slovenian Tamara Zidansek 6-3 6-4 in the second round of Roland Garros on Wednesday, harnessing her mighty forehand in front of a crowd squarely on her side.

The US Open winner sent over nearly two dozen winners and overcame issues with her serve, including six double faults, to set up a meeting with the winner of a match between China’s Wang Yafan and Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska.

The finalist in 2022 showed early signs of nerves as the unseeded Zidansek broke her serve in the opening game of the match.

But Gauff broke back in the sixth and eighth games, getting the decisive second-set break in the ninth game before pumping her fist with satisfaction as Zidansek sent the ball out of bounds on match point.