Iga Swiatek Saves a Match Point and Comes Back to Beat Naomi Osaka at the French Open

Naomi Osaka suffered a heart-breaking loss to Iga Swiatek in the second round of the French Open after having a 5-2 lead in the final set. For Swiatek, this win extended her 16-match winning streak at the Roland Garros, whilst for Osaka, it was a return to her former self, competing at the highest level. For nearly three hours, the two players entertained the crowd as rain pounded the stadium's closed roof. Spectators would sometimes yell out during rallies leading to a few stoppages of play. This prompted criticism from Swiatek, who pleaded with the crowd not to do this. With rain postponing the day's action until the following day, only nine matches were played, with winners including Sofia Kenin, Andrey Rublev, and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Swiatek stated after the game that she felt the match was much more intense than she had expected, with Osaka playing "amazing tennis." Swiatek managed to save a match point when she was down and won the last five games of the match to edge out Osaka. She last broke Osaka's serve on her 10th chance of the final set, converted her last break point, and held her nerve for the game's remainder. For Osaka, this match marked her return to the tour since January's Australian Open. She took time away from the sport to attend to her mental health. Osaka's daughter, who was recently walking, accompanied her to Paris. Osaka demonstrated her quick-strike capabilities, winning 82 of the 139 points lasting four strokes or fewer. Her powerful serve, with speeds up to 122 mph (197 kph), produced 54 winners. Osaka celebrated winning points by shouting "come on!" and slapping her thigh while turning her back to Swiatek to refocus. Osaka won nine out of 10 games to win the second set and took a 5-2 lead in the third. Swiatek struggled during the match and was not giving it her all as she was confused and concerned. For Swiatek, this marked a sudden return to form for Osaka, who climbed to the top of the rankings and won four Grand Slams between 2018 and early 2021. After suffering from anxiety in the past, Osaka's openness about her mental health helped usher in a change in sports and society's way of understanding how important mental health is. This prompted tennis officials to take mental health issues more seriously and accommodate athletes better. The game's result means that Swiatek moves on to the next round and continues to pursue her third consecutive Roland Garros trophy, which would make her the first woman ever to do so since Justine Henin did it between 2007 and 2009. For Osaka, however, she can take heart from the displays of her old self, demonstrating that she is still as capable as ever and has a long way to go in her career
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