French Open 2019: Naomi Osaka braces for tough match against Victoria Azarenka; Novak Djokovic faces Henri Laaksonen

Naomi Osaka, who was just two points from defeat in her opener, faces another minefield in the shape of former World No 1 and two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka.

Agence France-Presse May 30, 2019 11:45:34 IST
French Open 2019: Naomi Osaka braces for tough match against Victoria Azarenka; Novak Djokovic faces Henri Laaksonen

Paris: Top seed and 2016 champion Novak Djokovic continues his bid to hold all four Slams at once for the second time on Thursday.

French Open 2019 Naomi Osaka braces for tough match against Victoria Azarenka Novak Djokovic faces Henri Laaksonen

File image of Naomi Osaka. AFP

Naomi Osaka, who was just two points from defeat in her opener, faces another minefield in the shape of former World No 1 and two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka.

Three-time winner Serena Williams, who is looking for a record-equalling 24th major, faces Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara.

Naomi Osaka (JPN x1) v Victoria Azarenka (BLR)

Head-to-head: 1-1

US and Australian Open champion Osaka was just two points away from a shock defeat in the first round to world number 90 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova who twice served for the match.

"I think this was the most nervous I have ever been my entire life during a match," said 21-year-old Osaka.

Azarenka, now ranked 43, knocked out 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko in the first round and was a semi-finalist in Paris six years ago.

She came into Paris with solid clay court form having made the quarter-finals in Stuttgart and Rome.

Azarenka won her first match against Osaka at the Australian Open back in 2016 but the Japanese star levelled their head-to-head, dropping just three games in a second-round win on clay in Rome last year.

Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) v Henri Laaksonen (SUI)

Head-to-head: First meeting

Djokovic eased through his opener in straight sets against Poland's Hubert Hurkacz as he bids to become only the second man to hold all four Slams simultaneously for a second time.

The top seed faces Swiss lucky loser Laaksonen who has made the second round of a major for the first time.

The Finland-born world number 104 recently conquered a debilitating allergy to seafood despite having eaten fish virtually every day for all of his adult life.

"I don't know too much about him, to be honest," said Djokovic.

"I never played against him, and I did watch him play maybe once or twice. I'm going to have to do my homework and see what happens."

Serena Williams (USA x10) v Kurumi Nara (JPN)

Head-to-head: First meeting

Three-time champion Williams looked rusty in her opener against Vitalia Diatchenko where she dropped the first set.

The American, who is attempting to equal Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles, racked up her 800th career main draw win in a match which saw her unveil her 'mother, champion, queen, goddess' logo on her playing gear.

On Thursday, she faces world number 238 Kurumi Nara who stands just 5ft 1in (1.75m) tall but can mix it with the best of them.

In the 2017 US Open, she ruthlessly demolished 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The 27-year-old Nara, a former world 32, came through qualifying and is bidding to make the third round for the first time.

Updated Date:

also read

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Novak Djokovic 'not sure' about US Open after pulling out of mixed doubles bronze match
Sports

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Novak Djokovic 'not sure' about US Open after pulling out of mixed doubles bronze match

The withdrawal in Tokyo came after the 20-time major champion lost his cool on his way to a surprise 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3 defeat against Pablo Carreno Busta in the Olympics singles bronze-medal match.

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Novak Djokovic ‘getting better and better’ after straight sets thrashing of Kei Nishikori to enter semis
Sports

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Novak Djokovic ‘getting better and better’ after straight sets thrashing of Kei Nishikori to enter semis

The world number one, chasing a calendar Golden Grand Slam, ended home interest in the tennis with a ruthless 6-2, 6-0 victory in only 70 minutes.

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Naomi Osaka wins, Ashleigh Barty beaten; Andy Murray withdraws from singles
Sports

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Naomi Osaka wins, Ashleigh Barty beaten; Andy Murray withdraws from singles

The Japanese superstar who lit the Olympic cauldron defeated 52nd-ranked Zheng Saisai of China 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday in her first match in nearly two months.