Former World No.1 Naomi Osaka was forced to battle hard for the first Grand Slam win of her comeback from maternity leave, holding off a late charge from Lucia Bronzetti to triumph 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 in the first round of Roland Garros.

Osaka led 4-0 in the third set before No.67-ranked Bronzetti rattled off five straight games to lead 5-4. In the on-court interview afterwards, the four-time major champion explained that she had been "really nervous, so I got pretty tight."

However, Osaka managed to grit out the last three games in a row to notch her first match win in Paris since 2021, and her first victory in the three matches she has played this year which have gone the distance; she previously lost in three sets to Karolina Pliskova in Brisbane and Liudmila Samsonova in Madrid. Next up in Paris will be either No.1 seed Iga Swiatek or qualifier Leolia Jeanjean.

In Osaka's pre-tournament press conference, she had been unaware of her potential second-round opponent -- though had gleaned from questions that it might be a significant name.

"After, I was, like, why does everyone keep asking me about this draw?" she said after defeating Bronzetti. "Then I knew that I was in the top half so, jokingly, I was, like, 'Well, it's not like I'm playing Iga.' Then everyone got quiet. So I was like, 'Oh.'"

If Osaka does end up playing two-time defending champion Swiatek, who is on a 12-match winning streak after claiming the titles in Rome and Madrid, she will head into the match with a positive mindset.

"I'm honestly really excited," she said. "I watched her a lot when I was pregnant. And honestly, I think it's an honor to play her in the French Open, because she's won more than once here. It's a very big honor and challenge for me. 

"In a weird way, I definitely do feel like it's a test to see where I'm at, but I wouldn't say I have low expectations of myself. I'm a person that kind of thinks that I can win every match that I play. That's gotten me this far. I would never play a match thinking lowly of myself."

Twists and turns: Ahead of Roland Garros, Osaka declared that she now feels "pretty comfortable" on clay, a surface that has historically proven more challenging for her than her preferred hard courts. Indeed, she is coming off a confidence-boosting run to the last 16 in Rome which lifted her ranking to No.134. This was evident in a dominant first set, during which she displayed a willingness to stick in longer rallies before unloading her full power.

Bronzetti, the 2023 Rabat champion, had only won eight points on her own serve in the opener. But the Italian improved the efficiency of her delivery in the second, and only dropped eight points behind it. The key game was at 3-3, when she saved two break points against her. Three games later, she broke Osaka for the first time in the match as the Japanese player's forehand began to break down.

Osaka regained the authoritative form of the first set as she leapt out to a 4-0 third-set lead, but once again her forehand started to leak errors: she lost both of her next two service games through consecutive mistakes off that wing. Bronzetti, striking her own forehand with more purpose, was able to come within a game of victory.

But trailing 5-4, Osaka went back to basics, delivering a clutch service game to end the run of games against her and easing to the win from there.

In Osaka's words: Despite citing nerves on court, Osaka clarified what she had been feeling to the press later.

"I think it wasn't necessarily nervousness," she said. I know for sure I was nervous in the first set, but I was channeling that energy really well. Like, I was moving my feet a lot and I think I was very focused. But I think I was paying too much attention to the score. Because when I saw it was 6-1, I felt a lot of relaxation, and then obviously I didn't play well after that. 

"So for me, I feel like I have to find a balance in managing those two energies, but I was able to do it better at the end of the third set."