DAY TWO WRAP: Former World No.1 Naomi Osaka has made a stunning admission ahead of next month’s Wimbledon tournament, as Rafael Nadal started his French Open campaign.

Former world number one Naomi Osaka is prepared to boycott Wimbledon over the decision to strip the Grand Slam tournament of ranking points, admitting: “I’m leaning towards not playing”.

“I would say the decision is kind of affecting my mentality going into grass, like I’m not 100% sure if I’m going to go there,” said Osaka after her 7-5, 6-4 loss to Amanda Anisimova in the French Open first round on Monday.

The ATP and WTA tours last week removed ranking points from Wimbledon after the All England Club banned Russian and Belarusian players in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

“I’m leaning more towards not playing given the current circumstances. I’m the type of player that gets motivated by seeing my ranking go up,” added the four-time major winner.

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“The intention of this measure was good, but the execution is all over the place. I’m sure there will be a bit of back and forth with the whole point situation. Then I guess I’ll make my decision.”

“I feel like if I play Wimbledon without points, it’s more like an exhibition,” added Osaka, who has never got beyond the third round at the All England Club.

Wimbledon chiefs branded the move by the two tours, which threatens to reduce the sport’s most prestigious tennis tournament to the status of an exhibition event, as “disproportionate”.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic would lose 2,000 points and his world number one spot as a result.

World number one Iga Swiatek, who wore a ribbon in the colours of Ukraine for her first round win on Monday, said she was happy to still play Wimbledon, with or without points.

“I’m okay with playing without points. It’s Wimbledon. It’s one of the most important tournaments in the season,” said Swiatek.

“But it would be nice if the people who are making decisions were making decisions that are going to stop Russia’s aggression.”

The Wimbledon ban will rule out the likes of US Open champion and second-ranked Daniil Medvedev as well as former world number one and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka.

Belarusian Azarenka, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2011 and 2012, sits on the WTA’s powerful player council.

However, she refused to dive into the player ban or ranking points issue which threatens to overshadow the build-up to Wimbledon which starts on June 27.

“I think as many players there is going to be in the draw, as many opinions there will be,” said the 32-year-old when asked if players will boycott the tournament.

“From my experience on the tour, people say a lot of things, they do different. So I’m not going to take anybody’s word for it, and we will see what happens.”

Rafael Nadal, the champion at Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010, said he wished for a speedy conclusion to the impasse.

“I respect and understand the Wimbledon position; I understand and respect too that the ATP is protecting their members,” said the 21-time Grand Slam title winner.

“Hopefully ATP and Wimbledon can be together and sit together and negotiate a better future for both sides. The ATP board made a decision. We need to accept that decision.”

Nadal kicked off his quest for a 14th French Open title with a straight-sets win over Jordan Thompson, but former world number one Naomi Osaka and defending champion Barbora Krejcikova tumbled out in the first round Monday.

Nadal, on a quarter-final collision course with Novak Djokovic, brushed Australia’s Thompson aside 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 to improve his Roland Garros record to 106 wins and just three losses since his 2005 title-winning debut.

“I’m very happy with the victory today. I’m happy to get through in three sets,” said Nadal, seeded fifth.

“It’s a first round, a positive match for me. Straight sets but with significant room for improvement.”

On Sunday, John Isner admitted he is “not that stoked” about playing Wimbledon. Isner won the longest match in tennis history — an 11-hour five-minute marathon — at Wimbledon in 2010.

“I’m not that stoked about Wimbledon. I might just show up on Saturday and maybe I will play Monday and see what happens because our currency on tour is points,” said the American.

DAY ONE WRAP: YOUNG GUN STUNS, US OPEN WINNER’S SAD SLIDE CONTINUES

Carlos Alcaraz lived up to the mounting hype with a winning start at the French Open on Sunday but Arab trailblazer Ons Jabeur fell at the first hurdle as full crowds returned to Roland Garros after two pandemic-hit years.

Alcaraz, bidding to become just the eighth teenager to capture a major men’s title, defeated Argentine lucky loser Juan Ignacio Londero 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 without facing a break point on his Court Philippe Chatrier debut.

Widely tipped to end the dominance of 13-time champion Rafael Nadal and two-time winner Novak Djokovic, Alcaraz extended his season record to 29 wins and just three losses.

The 19-year-old crashed 22 winners past Londero who matched the Spaniard’s challenge early on until he was broken in the 10th game of the opening set.

Alcaraz then raced away with the tie courtesy of a double break in the second set and triple break in the third to set up a second round clash with compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

“I have been watching this tournament many years. It’s a unique place to play and I have been dreaming of playing here,” said Alcaraz who made the third round in 2021 having come through qualifying.

Alcaraz has a season-leading four titles in 2022. At the Madrid Masters, he defeated Nadal, Djokovic and Alexander Zverev to take the title.

German third seed Zverev, a semi-finalist last year and who is scheduled to face Alcaraz in the quarter-finals, also eased into the second round with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 win over Austria’s Sebastian Ofner, the world number 218.

Two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem, whose ranking has slipped to 194 after a lengthy battle with a wrist injury, was an early casualty, losing 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to 87th-ranked Hugo Dellien of Bolivia.

Thiem, the 2020 US Open champion, has yet to win a match in six attempts since his return in March. He has now lost 10 tour-level matches in a row. His last victory came in Rome just over a year ago.

The 28-year-old, a former world number three, reached at least the quarter-finals at Roland Garros five years running from 2016 to 2020.

He finished runner-up to Nadal in 2018 and 2019.

“It’s not the greatest feeling to go in a Grand Slam knowing that all is not perfect in practice,” said the Austrian.

Jabeur, seen as a potential champion this year, despite never having previously got past the fourth round, was the opening day’s highest-profile casualty when she lost 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 to Poland’s 56th-ranked Magda Linette.

Jabeur came into the event with a season-leading 17 wins on clay, the prestigious Madrid title and a runners-up spot to world number one Iga Swiatek in Rome.

However, she was undone by 47 unforced errors in the two hour 28-minute match. “Obviously I was expecting better but we say maybe something happens bad because there is something good happening in the future,” said Jabeur.

Linette had lost to Jabeur in the third round in 2021 having stunned an injury-hit top seed Ashleigh Barty in her previous match.

“I just tried to stay focused after the first set and tried to make her uncomfortable,” said Linette.

Also making a premature exit was 2016 champion and 10th seed Garbine Muguruza, beaten 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 by Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, the oldest woman in the tournament who came back from a set and break down.

World number 46 Kanepi, who turns 37 next month, made the last eight at the French Open in 2008 and 2012. Sunday’s victory was her 10th top ten win at a Slam.

Greek fourth seed and 2021 semi-finalist Maria Sakkari made the second round with a 6-2, 6-3 win over France’s Clara Burel.

Canadian ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime came into this Roland Garros without a win in two visits.

That almost became three when he gave up the first two sets to Peruvian qualifier and Grand Slam debutant Juan Pablo Varillas before he recovered to win 2-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.

Top seed and defending champion Djokovic, who turned 35 on Sunday, and fifth-seeded Nadal, with 41 Grand Slam titles between them, are not in action until Monday.

IS A NEW SUPERSTAR ABOUT TO BE BORN?

Carlos Alcaraz will bid to become only the eighth teenager to win a men’s Grand Slam title at the French Open, which starts on Sunday.

Here, AFP Sport takes a look at how the Spanish sensation’s early achievements rank compared to those of the ‘big three’ of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic early in their careers:

First ATP title — Alcaraz had been 18 for less than three months when he lifted his first ATP trophy in Umag, Croatia last year, but was not quite as quick to achieve the feat as Nadal.

The 21-time Grand Slam champion won the first of his 91 titles when he was eight days younger, on clay in Poland in 2004.

Federer and Djokovic were both 19 when they got their tallies underway in 2001 and 2006 respectively, although the Swiss great had to wait for a year after reaching his maiden final.

First Masters title — Alcaraz was 18 years and 333 days old when he truly announced himself as a major force in the sport by winning the Miami Open last month, beating Casper Ruud in the final.

But Nadal was two weeks younger when he lifted his first Masters crown in Monte Carlo in 2005.

Federer was only three months from turning 21 when he won in Hamburg in 2002, while Djokovic was 19 when he emerged victorious in Miami five years later. The Serb has gone on to win a record 38 Masters titles.

Entry into top 100 — Nadal was a remarkable 16 and 10 months when he broke into the top 100 of the ATP rankings in April 2003.

Alcaraz had to wait until three weeks after his 18th birthday to achieve the feat, but was younger, by a matter of days, than Federer and Djokovic when they made their breakthroughs.

Entry into top 10 — Alcaraz climbed into the top 10 for the first time exactly 17 years to the day after Nadal, on April 25, the day after winning the Barcelona Open.

That was 10 days before his 19th birthday, again just behind the pace set by Nadal, who was 18, 10 months and 22 days old.

Djokovic reached the top 10 when he was 19, while Federer had to wait until less than three months before turning 21.

First Grand Slam played — All four players were 17 when they first appeared in a Grand Slam. Alcaraz’s debut at the highest level came at last year’s Australian Open. Federer’s was at the 1999 French Open, Nadal’s came at Wimbledon in 2003 and Djokovic’s in the 2005 Australian Open.

Quickest to 50 wins — Alcaraz is comfortably the fastest to reach this milestone. It took the current world number six just 70 matches, beating Djokovic’s 79.

Nadal needed 81 matches to bring up his half-century, while Federer reached the mark in his 97th match.

First Grand Slam title — Nadal had been 19 for only two days when he won the first of his 13 French Open titles in 2005 and Alcaraz can no longer do better than his compatriot.

His best effort so far was reaching the US Open quarter-finals aged 18 last year, breaking the record for that tournament in the Open era.

Djokovic was 20 years and eight months when he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the 2008 Australian Open final, while Federer was almost 22 when he took the honours at the 2003 Wimbledon.

Like Nadal at Roland Garros, Djokovic and Federer have both gone on to enjoy those events the most. The current world number one has won nine Australian Opens and Federer has won eight Wimbledons.

DJOKOVIC COPS HORROR FRENCH OPEN DRAW

Defending champion Novak Djokovic, 13-time winner Rafael Nadal and new teenage star Carlos Alcaraz were drawn in the same half of the French Open on Thursday.

World number one Djokovic and Nadal, ranked five, are seeded to meet as early as the quarter-finals.

Alcaraz, 19, is bidding to become just the eighth teenager to win a Grand Slam men’s title.

He could face either Djokovic or Nadal, who holds a record 21 majors, in the semi-finals in a top-heavy draw for the second Grand Slam of the season.

“I am very motivated to play my best tennis,” said two-time French Open champion and 20-time major winner Djokovic.

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“In Paris, I always play very strong. Last year, it was the toughest major that I had won.” Djokovic had to twice come from two sets down last year to beat Lorenzo Musetti in the last-16 and Stefanos Tsitspas in the final having also beaten Nadal from a set behind in a bruising semi-final.

“Musetti, Rafa, Tsitsipas — every match lasted more than three hours. It was exhausting but I loved the outcome.” Djokovic, who celebrates his 35th birthday on Sunday, the opening day at Roland Garros, faces 94th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan in the first round.

Djokovic defeated Nishioka in straight sets in the Australian Open third round in 2020.

He will be fired up to defend his title having been deported from Melbourne in January because of his refusal to get vaccinated.

Nadal starts against Australia’s Jordan Thompson as he looks to extend his French Open record of only three defeats in 108 matches at the tournament since his title-winning debut in 2005. Thompson, ranked at 82, made the third round in Paris in 2019 before losing to Juan Martin del Potro.

Nadal arrived at Roland Garros looking to shake off the recurrence of a long-term foot injury which saw him limp to an early defeat in Rome last week where Djokovic claimed a sixth title in the Italian capital.

The Spaniard could face 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka in the second round. Alcaraz, who has a season-leading four titles in 2022 including Masters crowns in Miami and Madrid as well as Rio and Barcelona, begins against a qualifier.

The teenager knocked out Djokovic and Nadal on his way to victory in the Spanish capital.

Alcaraz’s potential opponent in the last 32 is Sebastian Korda who shocked him in the first round in Monte Carlo in April.

Second seed Daniil Medvedev, the US Open champion, faces Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis in his first round.

Third-ranked Alexander Zverev meets a qualifier while Tsitsipas has a tough opener against Musetti.

Swiatek hopes to keep on a roll at Roland Garros

In the women’s draw, world number one Iga Swiatek, the 2020 champion, is on a 28-match win streak and has pocketed five successive titles this season.

The 20-year-old Pole begins against a qualifier while second seed and defending champion Barbora Krejcikova faces France’s Diane Parry.

“The courts are incredible. The clay is different from the other tournaments but it suits me,” said Krejcikova at Thursday’s draw ceremony at Roland Garros.

Four-time major winner Naomi Osaka, a former world number one but now down at 38, returns to Paris 12 months after she pulled out ahead of the second round, citing mental health issues.

She had also been threatened with expulsion and fined by organisers over her refusal to attend press conferences.

The 24-year-old, the world’s highest-earning sportswoman, faces American 27th seed Amanda Anisimova, a semi-finalist in Paris in 2019.

Anisimova knocked Osaka out of the Australian Open in the third round this year. Third seed Paula Badosa of Spain begins against France’s Fiona Ferro while fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari also has a French opponent in Clara Burel.

Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, seeded six and the champion on clay in Madrid last month, takes on Magda Linette of Poland in her first round clash.

UNSEEDED OSAKA BATTLING FITNESS AND FORM CONCERNS

Naomi Osaka returns to Roland Garros looking to banish the memories of her withdrawal 12 months ago, but hampered by concerns over her clay-court form and fitness.

The former world No. 1 pulled out of last year’s French Open ahead of the second round, citing mental health issues. She had been threatened with expulsion and fined by organisers over her refusal to attend press conferences.

Osaka then spent large parts of the remainder of the 2021 season off the court and has struggled this campaign with injury.

The Japanese star withdrew from last week’s Italian Open to rest an Achilles problem and try to regain full fitness for the Grand Slam tournament in Paris, where she will be unseeded at a major for the first time since the 2018 Australian Open.

The 24-year-old has slipped to 38th in the WTA rankings going into Sunday’s start of the French Open, but was as low as number 78 in March.

Osaka showed she could still compete for the biggest titles the following week, reaching the Miami Open final — her first on the WTA Tour since the 2021 Australian Open — before losing to world No. 1 Iga Swiatek.

“Only a couple days ago I was celebrating getting back into the top 50 but I don’t take things like that for granted,” the four-time Grand Slam champion said after that defeat. “I’m a bit more humble now about the opportunities I get. I can take a lot of positives from this.”

Osaka will fancy her chances of a deep run at Roland Garros for the first time in a wide-open women’s draw, with the exception of red-hot favourite Swiatek, who is on a 28-match winning streak.

But she has plenty still to prove on clay, having never reached a Tour final on the surface or even made the second week of the French Open.

Osaka’s preparation this time around has been far from ideal and she has played only two matches on the red dirt this season.

She was visibly struggling with the Achilles injury in the second of those against unheralded Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo in Madrid, losing 6-3, 6-1.

“I feel like I couldn’t play the way that I wanted to play, like I was limited,” Osaka said.

When she withdrew from Roland Garros last year, Osaka said she had been suffering from “bouts of depression” since her breakthrough US Open triumph over Serena Williams in the controversial 2018 final.

Osaka said she found press conferences to be akin to “kicking people when they’re down”.

She later skipped Wimbledon before returning at the Olympics, lighting the Olympic cauldron in Japan.

Osaka, the world’s highest-paid sportswoman with a $57 million income last year according to Forbes, now believes she is more content both on and off the court.

“At this stage in my life I feel very content in my mental health journey. I feel comfortable in who I am and where I have come from,” she told Self magazine earlier this month.

“My main goal used to be winning. Lately I have tried to ask myself questions like, ‘Will this make you happy?’”

Osaka’s sporting focus will be firmly on the next two months and making a serious dent in the French Open and Wimbledon draws for the first time, with the added bonus of a potential rise back up the rankings.

Nadal picks up pace for French Open

Rafael Nadal tested out his injured foot in his first practice at the French Open on Wednesday without any obvious discomfort.

Nadal, the 13-time champion at Roland Garros, delighted fans who packed two sides of the 15,000-capacity Court Philippe Chatrier in the baking Paris sun.

Welcomed by the watching Stefanos Tsitsipas, the world No. 4 who was runner-up at the tournament in 2021, Nadal hit with Spanish compatriot Jaume Munar.

It was the 35-year-old Nadal’s first public appearance since suffering a recurrence of a chronic foot injury in his Italian Open third round loss to Denis Shapovalov last week.

“I’m not injured, I am a player living with an injury. That’s it,” Nadal told reporters in Rome.

“It’s something that is there unfortunately and my day by day is difficult. I am trying hard but of course it is difficult for me. A lot of days I can’t practice.”

On Wednesday, Nadal gave no indication that the effects of the injury had followed him to the French capital as he practised for two hours.

The Spanish star, chasing a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam title, will learn his first round opponent in Thursday’s draw.

Nadal, defeated in the semi-finals by eventual champion Novak Djokovic 12 months ago, has an astonishing record of 105 victories against just three losses at the tournament since his title-winning debut in 2005.

The French Open gets underway on Sunday.

Aus deportation lights fire under Djokovic

Novak Djokovic admits he will be fired up by the fiasco of his high-profile deportation from Australia when he targets a record-equalling 21st major on his Grand Slam return at the French Open.

World number one Djokovic captured a second Roland Garros title in 2021 followed by a sixth Wimbledon to move to 20 majors alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

However, his unseemly exit from Melbourne following his refusal to be vaccinated opened the door for Nadal to claim a second Australian Open and 21st Grand Slam crown.

“It’s something that I never faced before,” said Djokovic, who turns 35 on Sunday, the opening day of the French Open.

“The amount of pressure and everything that I was feeling in the first few months of the year, as much as I’ve felt pressure in my life and my career, that was something really on a whole different level.”

Djokovic has played only five tournaments in 2022 but arrives in Paris buoyed by a sixth Italian Open title, becoming just the fifth man to win 1,000 career matches in the process.

It was his 38th Masters triumph, two more than Nadal at the top of the all-time list.

He did not drop a set in Rome as he finished a memorable week with a final victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas, the man he defeated from two sets down in the 2021 French Open title match.

With 13-time French Open champion Nadal suffering a recurrence of a foot injury, another Spaniard is likely to be Djokovic’s biggest headache in Paris.

Carlos Alcaraz, just 19, has rocketed to six in the world on the back of four titles – three on clay – in 2022.

He won a second Masters title in Madrid, sweeping Nadal, Djokovic and third-ranked Alexander Zverev on the way.

“He definitely is special,” admitted Djokovic of Alcaraz who also claimed the prestigious Miami Masters earlier in the year.

Alcaraz was ranked 97 this time last year. He was only two when Nadal won the first of his 13 French Opens in 2005 but he made his mark at the 2021 tournament where he came through qualifying to reach the third round.

Djokovic has been responsible for two of only three losses suffered by Nadal in Paris.

One of those came in a bruising semi-final 12 months ago, the most recent clash of the pair’s epic 58-match rivalry.

Nadal comes into Paris with major question marks over his ability to lift a 14th title.

A rib injury in March was followed by the re-emergence in Rome of his chronic foot injury where he limped to defeat in the last-16.

The 35-year-old Spaniard is due to practice at Roland Garros for the first time on Wednesday where he will have his own doctor on hand to assess his fitness.

“I am a player living with an injury; it is nothing new,” said Nadal, now ranked fifth in the world.

“Since I came back, the foot has been tough. It’s tough for me to be able to practice the proper way.”

Russian world number two Daniil Medvedev, who gave up a two-sets lead to lose to Nadal in the Australian Open final, only returned to action in Geneva this week after undergoing a hernia operation.

The US Open champion has 13 titles to his name but has yet to master the draining demands of clay.

At Roland Garros, he was winless in his first four visits before managing to stop the rot with a quarter-final run in 2021.

Medvedev is likely to use the ban on Russian players at Wimbledon this year as fuel for a surprise title tilt.

Greek world number four Tsitsipas has enjoyed a solid clay season. He defended his Monte Carlo title before making the last-eight in Barcelona and semi-finals in Madrid.dj/bsp

Originally published as French Open 2022 Day 2 results: Naomi Osaka could skip Wimbledon over WTA Points ban

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