No.4 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece stopped the string of Top 10 upsets at Roland Garros on Sunday by defeating French hope Clara Burel 6-2, 6-3 in their first-round match on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Sakkari, a French Open semifinalist last year, held off World No.95 Burel in their first meeting. After No.6 seed Ons Jabeur and No.10 seed Garbiñe Muguruza were upset earlier on Sunday, Sakkari is the first Top 10 player to make the second round this year.
The victory marks Sakkari's 20th match-win of the season so far. Sakkari made her first WTA 1000 final earlier this year at Indian Wells, peaking at a career-high ranking of No.3 following that event.
Former Junior World No.1 Burel has had difficult draws at the Grand Slams this season, suffering two first-round losses to Top 5 players. Burel fell to No.3 seed Muguruza in her 2022 Australian Open opener.
Sakkari handed Burel another early defeat in a major by firing 24 winners, nearly double the Frenchwoman's 13. Sakkari broke Burel five times to capture victory in 1 hour and 28 minutes.
"I think it's always tough to play first round in a Grand Slam, especially against a local [player]," Sakkari said afterward. "But I think I handled the stress of the first round extremely well. My tennis maybe was not 10 out of 10, but overall I think I did a great job."
Former Top 20 player Karolina Muchova awaits Sakkari in the second round. Muchova defeated Sakkari in their only tour-level meeting, on the clay courts of Madrid last year.
Bencic, Fernandez move into second round
The next-highest-seeded player in Sakkari's eighth of the draw, No.14 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, made swift passage into the second round with a 6-1, 6-1 win over lucky loser Reka Luca Jani of Hungary.
Last year's Olympic gold medalist Bencic needed exactly one hour to top 145th-ranked Jani, who was making her first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam event since the 2011 US Open over ten years ago.
Bencic had 28 winners to Jani's nine as the Swiss player made the second round in Paris for the fifth time.
No.17 seed Leylah Fernandez, who is in the same packed section of the draw as Sakkari and Bencic, won her first-round match as well by overcoming France's Kristina Mladenovic 6-0, 7-5 on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
2021 US Open finalist Fernandez swept through the first set winning 80 percent of her first-service points. But former Top 10 player Mladenovic made a comeback in the second set, leaping out to a 3-0 lead and holding two set points at 5-3.
However, Fernandez used her lefty forehand to stave off those chances and hold for 5-4. Overall, Fernandez maintained aggression at the net and with her forehand to win the last four games, and the contest ended with Mladenovic's 10th double fault.
Fernandez will face WTA Doubles World No.1 Katerina Siniakova in the second round, in their first meeting.