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Barty passes Pera test, Svitolina advances

PARIS (Agencies): World No.1 and 2019 Roland-Garros champion Ashleigh Barty endured some difficult moments during her opening round meeting with American lefty Bernarda Pera but still pulled off a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 victory to move into the second round on Tuesday.

The crafty Australian, who missed her title defence last year due to travel restrictions during the pandemic, required treatment to her back after she dropped the second set but grabbed a crucial service break in the decider to set up a showdown with Magda Linette or Chloe Paquet.

“It’s so special to back. I was disappointed not to be able to play last year, but this court is incredible for me, it’s very close to my heart and it’s very nice to be able to play here in front of fans,” Barty told Fabrice Santoro in her on-court interview. Ukrainian No.5 seed Elina Svitolina was tested in the second set but safely secured her passage to the second round with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over French wildcard Oceane Babel earlier on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Svitolina, a three-time quarter-finalist in Paris, rallied back from a break down in the second set against the inspired 17-year-old lefty before setting up a last-64 clash with American Ann Li. Li, playing for the first time since reaching the Monterrey semi-finals in March, dropped just one game in her 46-minute rout of Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan.

Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady, the No.13 seed, debuted her new coaching partnership with Brad Stine by claiming a 6-3, 6-3 win over Anastasija Sevastova. Greek No.17 seed Maria Sakkari made a comfortable start to her Roland-Garros campaign, easing past Ukrainian Katarina Zavatska 6-4, 6-1 in 88 minutes to book a last-64 meeting with Italian Jasmine Paolini.

Tunisian No.25 seed Ons Jabeur, who last year became the first Arab woman in history to reach the fourth round at Roland-Garros, survived a turbulent opening set before dismissing two-time quarter-finalist Yulia Putintseva 7-5, 6-2.

The 26-year-old will take on Australian wildcard Astra Sharma in the second round, which would be a rematch of their Charleston final from earlier this year.

Sharma, who defeated Jabeur in that decider to lift her maiden WTA title in April, advanced in Paris on Tuesday with a straight-sets win over Romanian qualifier Irina Bara. “Definitely going for my revenge,” Jabeur said of her upcoming rematch with Sharma.

“She’s a big server. I know she has a better forehand, so I’m just going to try to focus on myself this time. Definitely going for my revenge. I’m going to try to play good. No stress. I’m just not trying to do the same mistake that I did last times. Trying to relax for now, enjoy the day and a half, and see, enjoy a little bit of Paris and see what’s going on.”

Home favourite Fiona Ferro shook off a stiff challenge from Taiwanese qualifier Liang En-Shuo to squeeze through 1-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Australian No.21 seed Alex de Minaur claimed a straight-sets victory over Italian Stefano Travaglia and is through to the Roland-Garros second round for just the second time in five visits to the French capital.

De Minaur next faces former semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato, who bounced back from a set down to eliminate Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.