French Open 2021: Birthday girl Iga Swiatek wins to start title defense


Defending French Open champion Iga Swiatek has picked up right where she left off last year in winning the title: running yet another opponent this way and that on the red clay of Roland Garros in a take-no-prisoners straight-sets victory.

Her best friend on the tennis circuit, Kaja Juvan, was the victim on Court Philippe Chatrier on Monday as Swiatek emphatically kicked off her campaign to become the first woman since Justine Henin in 2007 to defend the French Open title.

Playing on her 20th birthday, Swiatek treated herself to a 6-0, 7-5 victory — her eighth straight-sets win in a row at Roland Garros, having also not dropped a set in winning last year as an unseeded 19-year-old.

Meanwhile, Evergreen 39-year-olds Serena Williams and Roger Federer will be attempting to roll back the years on Day 2 of the French Open, where first-round play is underway on the sun-kissed clay courts and Iga Swiatek will begin the defense of her title.

Federer, the oldest player in men’s singles this year, is scheduled for the third match on Court Philippe Chatrier. It will the first Grand Slam match since the 2020 Australian Open for the holder of 20 major titles, making a comeback from double surgery on his right knee.

Federer plays Denis Istomin from Uzbekistan. Istomin reached the main draw via the qualifying competition. He has not advanced beyond the second round in 10 previous Roland Garros appearances. Federer is seeded eighth this year.

Williams plays after Federer vs. Istomin, in the last match on Philippe Chatrier, not scheduled to start before 9 p.m. Matches at last year’s tournament — held exceptionally in autumn — also stretched late into the night on newly floodlit courts. But scheduled night sessions are a novelty this year at Roland Garros.





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