Paris - World number one Simona Halep battled back after a
disastrous opening set to beat Alison Riske 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 in their delayed
French Open first-round match on Wednesday, while Petra Kvitova impressed in
reaching round three.
Halep, the runner-up in Paris in 2014 and 2017, slumped 0-5
down in the opening set to world number 83 Riske whose only win at the
tournament came in 2014.
The Romanian committed 16 unforced errors in the set but
stepped up a gear from that point on to book a second-round match against
Taylor Townsend of the United States.
"It's always difficult in the first round of a Grand
Slam, you are always nervous," said Halep.
"But I started to run more, played better and kept more
balls in play."
The 26-year-old, who is still looking for a first Grand Slam
title, will play for the second straight day on Thursday, after the match with
Riske was pushed back from Tuesday due to rain.
"I think I'll be ready tomorrow, I feel strong in my
legs," said the top seed.
"Anything can happen with the rain so all we can do is
rest and try to be at our best when we step on the court."
Halep needs to reach the semi-finals or better if she is to
retain the world top spot.
Eighth seed Kvitova eased into the third round with a 6-0,
6-4 victory over Spain's Lara Arruabarrena on Court One.
The two-time Wimbledon champion has now won 13 consecutive
matches on clay after claiming titles in Prague and Madrid, and will face
Estonia's 25th seed Anett Kontaveit for a place in the last 16.
Czech Kvitova has not reached the quarter-finals at Roland
Garros since a run to the last four in 2012.
The 28-year-old raced through the opening set in only 24
minutes, and although she was pegged back after an early break in the second, a
booming forehand sealed victory with a third straight game.
Ukrainian fourth seed Elina Svitolina reached the last 32
for the fourth consecutive year by brushing aside Viktoria Kuzmova in straight
The 23-year-old, who arrived in Paris having won her second
straight Italian Open title, saw off her Slovakian opponent 6-3, 6-4.
Svitolina, a two-time quarter-finalist at Roland Garros,
will take on Romanian 31st seed Mihaela Buzarnescu in the last 32.
Elsewhere, charismatic Japanese 21st seed Naomi Osaka came
through a tight match with Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas 6-4, 7-5.
The 20-year-old Osaka is seeded for the first time at a
major tournament, having lifted the prestigious Indian Wells title earlier this
year before beating Serena Williams in Miami the following week.
Williams, who made her Grand Slam return with a singles win
on Tuesday, is back in action in the doubles with sister Venus later on