PARIS — Canada's Bianca Andreescu has advanced to the second round of the French Open with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over 18th-seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
Andreescu started to take control of the match after a poor first set, overpowering Azarenka with an aggressive pace and confident shotmaking.
The 22-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., went up with an early break in the third set to take a 2-1 lead, then fought off a break point for a crucial hold.
Azarenka did not go quietly, however. The Belarusian fought off four match points in the final game before hitting the net to end the match in two hours 30 minutes.
"I felt like I started to become very passive and she was just hitting winner after winner so I told myself that if I want to even have a close match I really have to put pressure and I started taking the ball earlier," Andreescu said after the match.
"My serve started to become a weapon and I think that really helped."
It was the first meeting between Andreescu, who entered the tournament ranked 42nd in the world, and Azarenka, a former No. 1 and a two-time Australian Open champion.
Andreescu will face American Emma Navarro in the second round of the clay-court Grand Slam.
After the players exchanged holds over the first four games, Azarenka won the next four in convincing fashion to take the first set.
Andreescu went on a similar run to take the second set. She tied the set at 3-3 with a break to start a four-game run that tied the match at a set apiece.
The victory snapped Andreescu's three-match losing streak that started with an injury retirement to Ekaterina Alexandrova in the fourth round of the Miami Open. Andreescu tore two ankle ligaments in the match and has struggled to return to form after weeks of rehab.
Andreescu became the first Canadian to win a major singles title when she captured the 2019 U.S. Open. She has not progressed past the second round at any of the other three Grand Slams.
Navarro, ranked 75th in the world, advanced to the second round with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 win over Russia's Erika Andreeva in her French Open women's main draw debut.
Navarro advanced to the final of the 2019 French Open girl's final, where she lost to Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que.
Fernandez is scheduled to face Denmark's Clara Tauson in a second-round match on Wednesday. It's a rematch of the 2019 Australian Open junior final, which Tuason won in straight sets.
Also Wednesday, 26th-seed Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., is set to face Italy's Matteo Arnaldi in a men's second-round match.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 30, 2023.
The Canadian Press