Fifth seed Elina Svitolina fought back from 5-2 down in the second to beat French wildcard Oceane Babel 6-2, 7-5 in the first round of the French Open.
17-year-old Babel initially started slowly, perhaps overawed by the occasion or simply unable to keep up with her illustrious opponent, but she really grew into the match.
In the second set she started to become far more aggressive, with her forehand particularly noteworthy.
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Babel, who is ranked in the 1000s, found herself 5-2 up but Svitolina showed her class to dig deep and ensure there was no third set.
“I was really happy to play today on this court,” Svitolina said after the match.
“It’s always very special to play the opening match on Philippe Court and it’s nice weather, and there’s fans in the stadium so it’s extra special for me to get the win today
I think it takes experience. It’s the first time for her to play on this court and be in the main draw of a Grand Slam and play the sixth best player in the world
“I remember being in that situation and being very stressed but I think she dealt extremely well with it and she was going more for it in the second set and made it tough for me.”
Svitolina will face another younger player in the next round in the form of 20-year-old American Ann Li
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Watch all the action from the 2021 French Open live on Eurosport, and the Eurosport app with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal eyeing a remarkable 14th title at his favourite event and 2020 Roland Garros sensation Iga Swiatek aiming to replicate her stunning triumph in Paris.
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