Paris: Former world number one Victoria Azarenka's return to Grand Slam tennis lasted just two sets as the Belarusian slumped to a 7-5, 7-5 loss to Katerina Siniakova in the French Open first round on Monday.
Azarenka, who missed much of last season after being embroiled in a custody battle over her son, was broken to love in the 12th games of each set to be dumped out by world number 57 Siniakova.
The two-time Australian Open champion has now won just two matches at Roland Garros in the last five years.
Czech Siniakova moves onto a second-round match with Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova, who stunned defending champion Jelena Ostapenko on Sunday, in a part of the draw in which the only remaining seed is number 26 Barbora Strycova.
It was Azarenka's first Grand Slam match since losing to Simona Halep in the Wimbledon fourth round last July.
Kvitova fights to live another day
Petra Kvitova came within three points of falling in the first round of the French Open before three successive aces and her nerves of steel carried her to a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 win over little-known Paraguayan Veronica Cepede Royg.
The Czech, who suffered career-threatening injuries on her playing left hand after being attacked in her home by a knife-wielding intruder in December 2016, arrived in Paris on the back of an 11-match winning streak.
But Cepede Royg came close to snapping that run as she edged 5-4 and 0-15 ahead on Kvitova’s serve in the third set.
But the woman who proved even her surgeon wrong by coming back to play top left tennis just five months after the attack unleashed three successive aces to survive that scare.
She was soon saluting the crowd with a raised clenched-fist as she broke in the next game before wrapping up victory to set up a second-round meeting with Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena.
Osaka shows best and worst in first-round win
Japan’s Naomi Osaka displayed the best and worst sides of her game in a 6-2, 7-5 first-round win against American Sofia Kenin.
The 21st seed seemed en route to a nice morning stroll on Court 3 in Paris but lost her focus in the second set before regaining her composure to set up a second-round meeting with Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.
Osaka, 20, defeated Azarenka in the first round in Rome earlier this month before managing only one game against world number one Halep in the second, and she started on the right foot against Kenin.
She blazed through the opening set but let her guard down early in the second as Kenin broke in the first game to open a 2-0 lead.
The Japanese continued to spray the court with unforced errors, allowing her opponent to steal her serve a second time.
Then Kenin suffered a terrible meltdown as Osaka won 18 out of 20 points to go from 5-2 down to 6-5 up.
She wrapped it up on Kenin’s serve on her first match point when the American sent a forehand long.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: May 28, 2018 18:49:31 IST