No.8 seed Karolina Pliskova had to come from a set down to beat surging wildcard Tessah Andrianjafitrimo 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 in 2 hours and 3 minutes to reach the second round of Roland Garros.
Advancing more straightforwardly were former champion Jelena Ostapenko, who defeated Lucia Bronzetti 6-1, 6-4 in 67 minutes, and Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins, who stormed past lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova 6-0, 6-4 in 71 minutes.
Pliskova has struggled to find form since fracturing her wrist during the off-season. The former World No.1 returned to action in March, and her season record coming into Paris was just 5-7. But a semifinal run in Strasbourg last week was a promising sign, and Pliskova took another step in the right direction here.
Andrianjafitrimo, 23, is currently ranked at a career high of No.141, and was bidding to join a succession of low-ranked French players who had pulled off first-round upsets the previous day. Diane Parry had led the way by upsetting defending champion Barbora Krejcikova in three sets, and wildcards Elsa Jacquemot and Leolia Jeanjean had followed her into the second round.
Pliskova will next face Jeanjean as she seeks to return to the third round for the first time since 2019.
Match management: Andrianjafitrimo impressed with the breadth of her game in the first set, demonstrating fine reflexes at the net as well as deft touch on the drop shot. Seeking her first tour-level victory, she kept Pliskova off-balance by mixing up biting slice with heavy topspin. As Andrianjafitrimo charged out to a 5-1 lead, Pliskova had required seven break points just to get on the board.
But despite Pliskova's 22 unforced errors in the opening set, she started to shift momentum toward its close. Andrianjafitrimo needed five set points to close it out, and Pliskova began to find her range on her forehand. The Czech took this into the second set, building a 4-1 double-break lead.
Some superb passing shots enabled Andrianjafitrimo to get one of the breaks back, and she held a point to level at 4-4. But Pliskova found another gear to chase down a drop shot and flick a delicate winner off it; once she had regained the break for 5-3, she took an iron grip of the match.
Pliskova's second serve was a vulnerability throughout the match, winning only eight points behind it. In the second and third sets she solved that issue by simply maintaining a 74% first serve percentage. The 2017 semifinalist saved all five break points she faced in the decider and converted her first match point as Andrianjafitrimo sent a forehand long.
Ostapenko, Collins power into second round
No.13 seed Ostapenko is one of three former champions in the top sixteenth of the draw, along with Iga Swiatek and Simona Halep, and she delivered a worthy performance to kick off her campaign.
The Latvian had come into Paris on a five-match losing streak stretching back to February, but her form against Bronzetti was reminiscent of her electrifying tennis in the Middle East that had immediately preceded this slump. Ostapenko rained winners from every corner of the court as she raced into a 6-1, 3-0, 30-0 lead.
An overrule of a serve she had thought was an ace derailed her momentum slightly. Bronzetti, who had reached her first WTA semifinal in Rabat last week, sensed opportunity. The No.73-ranked Italian had not managed to hit a winner in the first set, but began unleashing her forehand to gain one of the breaks back.
The closing stages of the match were hard-fought and tightly contested. Ostapenko needed all her focus, speed and accuracy to pull through. The 24-year-old impressed with her speed in chasing down some fine Bronzetti drop shots and sealed her second match point by blazing a forehand winner down the line -- her 38th of the day.
Ostapenko will next face home hope Alizé Cornet, who opened play on Court Philippe-Chatrier with a 6-2, 6-0 defeat of Misaki Doi in just 58 minutes. Their head-to-head is currently all square at two wins apiece, and this will be their first clay-court encounter.
No.9 seed Collins, a quarterfinalist in Paris in 2020, used her offensive firepower to rally from a break down twice in the second set against Tomova. The American fired 30 winners to Tomova's seven to seal the win.
Ostapenko on coming back from injury and a losing streak: "Of course I'm not counting those four tournaments because obviously I was injured. In Miami I was already injured. I felt my wrist, and after that, I had to take two weeks off and to do some treatment on my wrist. That's why I couldn't play the Billie Jean King Cup and Stuttgart. And of course, Rome and Madrid was also tough after injury, first tournaments, you feel like you still have pain but you don't really have pain. It's more mental.
"So it needs some time to get rid of those thoughts, because I felt like in the practice I was playing really well. I was playing many points against good girls, and I was winning most of them.
"Most of them I win, really -- not easy, but quite easy, because I'm playing really well. Then sometimes I go on the court to play a match and I'm a completely different person, completely different player. Then I'm like, What's happening with me on the matches?
"So I just try to bring all that from practice to the matches, because I think tennis is 70% mental game."