French Open: Carla Suarez Navarro survives opening round challenge

Having to mount a comeback in both sets, Carla Suarez Navarro had to battle before triumphing in her first round match of the French Open against Maria Sakkari.

French Open: Carla Suarez Navarro survives opening round challenge
Carla Suarez Navarro moves on to the second round | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe
Carla Suarez Navarro
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Maria Sakkari

Owning a 4-1 lead in the first set and a 2-1 lead in the second, Maria Sakkari failed to take her chances in her debut main draw match at the French Open as the experienced Carla Suarez Navarro won five consecutive games on two different occasions to take the win in straight sets.

Suarez Navarro mounts huge comeback

Suarez Navarro had the perfect start to the match, taking advantage of some errors made by Sakkari to break serve in the opening game and take the early lead. The Greek made an untimely double fault on break point to gift the lead to the higher-ranked player, showing some early jitters in her first ever Roland Garros main draw appearance. However, Sakkari managed to maintain her composure fast enough for her to make an immediate reply, breaking straight back in the next game to return level.

Carla Suarez Navarro in action | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe
Carla Suarez Navarro in action | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe

The match then had its first service hold as Suarez Navarro failed to convert a break point and allowed the youngster to narrowly hold her serve. With some great backhand winners, Sakkari made the next breakthrough as she cruised to an easy service break in the next game, with the Spaniard throwing in a double fault on break point and got broken to love as a result. Fending off a break point in the process, Sakkari consolidated the break and extended her lead to 4-1 within a blink of an eye, snatching four straight games.

A solid baseline game then saw Suarez Navarro manage to force errors coming off Sakkari’s racquet, holding her serve to love as she lessened the deficit to just two games. A comeback looked likely when the higher-ranked player came from 40-15 down in the seventh game to break back out of nowhere and suddenly return level on serve.

Maria Sakkari in action | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe
Maria Sakkari in action | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe

Her run continued when Sakkari, visibly frustrated with herself after failing to convert her opportunities, hit a string of unforced errors to allow the former Top 10 player to earn a love service hold before some excellent forehand winners brought the Spaniard just within a game away from winning the first set after breaking serve once more. The pressure eventually got to Sakkari and she was unable to step up her game as Suarez Navarro managed to comfortably serve out the set after 49 minutes, winning five consecutive games.

Suarez Navarro seals the win

Carrying over the momentum from the first set, Suarez Navarro had the best possible start to the second set as she broke serve in the opening game having saved a game point in the process, with Sakkari still being very erratic in her baseline game. However, Sakkari looked to have found back the momentum when she broke straight back to love, leveling the scores at 1-1.

Maria Sakkari hits a backhand slice | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe
Maria Sakkari hits a backhand slice | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe

Able to keep up the high level of play, the Greek held her serve comfortably and earned the lead for the first time in the second set. Nevertheless, Suarez Navarro never seemed to be affected by the loss of her service game as she quickly regained her lead, and eventually strolled to win five straight games once again, sealing the victory after 1 hour and 22 minutes.

Carla Suarez Navarro hits her famous one-handed backhand | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe
Carla Suarez Navarro hits her famous one-handed backhand | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe


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