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Nadal, Djokovic ease through as French Open continues without Osaka

Nadal, Djokovic ease through as French Open continues without Osaka
June 2, 2021

PARIS (Reuters) – Claycourt master Rafael Nadal and world number one Novak Djokovic cantered into the second round of the French Open where the shockwaves of Naomi Osaka's withdrawal were still felt.

Japan's Osaka left the claycourt Grand Slam on Monday after refusing to attend the mandatory post-match press conferences and revealing she had been suffering from bouts of depres for three years. 

While Nadal and Djokovic had no trouble against their respective opponents Alexei Popyrin and Tennys Sandgren, Russian seventh seed Andrey Rublev was knocked out in five sets by unseeded German Jan-Lennard Struff.

In the women's draw, former runner-up Venus Williams made another first-round exit while fellow American Sloane Stephens came through in three sets against Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro.

For the first time since tennis turned professional in 1968, only three French men made it to the second round.

2106 DJOKOVIC EASES PAST SANDGREN

World number one Novak Djokovic barely broke sweat as he eased past American Tennys Sandgren 6-2 6-4 6-2 in the first round in the first men's match to be scheduled in a night session at Roland Garros.

The 18-time Grand Slam champion, who is on a semi-final collision course with 13-time French Open winner Rafal Nadal, next faces Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay.

Sloane Stephens saved a match point at 5-4 in the second set and beat Carla Suarez Navarro 3-6 7-6(4) 6-4 in 2 hours, 24 minutes. The 28-year-old American will take on Czech ninth seed Karolina Pliskova in the next round.

Suarez Navarro returned to tennis five weeks after announcing she had recovered from cancer. The 32-year-old was diagnosed with odgkin's lymphoma in September last year.

Ninth seed Karolina Pliskova defeated Croatia's Donna Vekic 7-5 6-4. Coco Gauff, who is seeded 24th this year, also advanced in straight sets, beating Serbia's Aleksandra Krunic 7-6(11) 6-4 in just over two hours.

Venus Williams pulled no punches when asked how she handled the pressure of having to deal with the media:

"How I deal with it was that I know every single person asking me a question can't play as well as I can and never will, so no matter what you say or what you write, you'll never light a candle to me," she said. "That's how I deal with it."