Arab icon Ons Jabeur makes the perfect start at French Open

The Tunisian became the first Arab player in history to reach a Grand Slam final last year


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Tunisia's Ons Jabeur hits a return during her first round match on Tuesday. —  Reuters
Tunisia's Ons Jabeur hits a return during her first round match on Tuesday. — Reuters

By Reuters

Published: Tue 30 May 2023, 5:39 PM

World number seven Ons Jabeur made a near-flawless start to her French Open campaign as she brushed aside unseeded Italian Lucia Bronzetti 6-4 6-1 on Tuesday to reach round two, while 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva grabbed her first Grand Slam main draw win.

Last year's runner-up and fourth seed Norwegian Casper Ruud also made his way into the next round by thumping Swedish qualifier Elias Ymer 6-4 6-3 6-2 after American 16th seed Tommy Paul swatted aside Dominic Stephan Stricker 6-3 6-2 6-4.

Jabeur, the Tunisian star who became the first Arab player in history to reach a Grand Slam final last year, has had a stop-start season in which she had minor knee surgery before winning the title in Charleston.

She skipped the Madrid Open with a calf problem but the Tunisian was in peak form in Paris as she eased through the first set.

Bronzetti came into the clash on Court Philippe Chatrier high on confidence after winning the first singles title of her career in Rabat but the 24-year-old's hopes of ending a five-match losing run at the majors faded as the contest wore on.

Jabeur, the runner-up at last year's Wimbledon and US Open after a shock first-round defeat at Roland Garros, blended guile and power as she reeled off the breaks in the second set to go 5-0 up before dropping serve.

The 28-year-old quickly shook off that minor dip to comfortably close out the contest in the following game when Bronzetti sent a shot wide at the net.

Andreeva announced herself to the world when she stunned 2021 US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez 6-3 6-4 in Madrid last month and also defeated Beatriz Haddad Maia and Magda Linette before falling to eventual champion Aryna Sabalenka.

The Russian qualifier broke new ground at the majors with a 6-2 6-1 win over former world number 18 Alison Riske-Amritraj.

"Last year I was here as a junior and I think I couldn't even imagine that I can be here playing the women's tournament and being in a major passing qualification," Andreeva said.

"I'm pretty excited about it ... I just try to enjoy every moment here."

Up next for Andreeva is wild card Diane Parry who stunned Rome runner-up Anhelina Kalinina 6-2 6-3.

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