Hello and welcome to coverage from day 3 of the French Open.
It is the final day of first round matches in Paris and defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic headline the action with women’s top seed Ash Barty.
Nadal, who is seeking a record-extending 14th title at his favourite Grand Slam, is seeded third this year and in the same half of the draw as top seed Djokovic. Winning the title will move Nadal past Roger Federer at the top of the all-time list of men’s Grand Slam champions, with 21.
The Spaniard begins his campaign on Philippe Chatrier against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin, who he beat in straight sets in the last-16 of the Madrid Masters in March. Djokovic, who lost to Nadal in last year’s French Open final, faces American Tennys Sandgren in the evening session.
The Serb has beaten Sandgren in all three of their previous meetings, with his most recent victory over the American coming at last year’s ATP Masters tournament in Cincinnati.
Barty, the 2019 champion, opted not to defend her title last year, citing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of training time in an abbreviated season. The Australian world number one opens her quest to regain her crown against unseeded American Bernarda Pera, in the first career meeting between the two.
Meanwhile, the fallout from Naomi Osaka’s decision to withdraw from the tournament continues as the news transcends sport. “So proud of you,” Venus Williams posted on Twitter. “Take care of yourself and see you back winning soon!”
Williams’s sister Serena and younger American players Coco Gauff and Sloane Stephens also chimed in with messages of support as the focus shifted from Osaka’s responsibilities to her wellbeing. Billie Jean King echoed comments from fellow women’s tennis trailblazer Martina Navratilova about the importance of mental health.
“It’s incredibly brave that Naomi Osaka has revealed her truth about her struggle with depression,” King wrote on social media. “Right now, the important thing is that we give her the space and time she needs. We wish her well.”
There were also messages of support posted on social media from athletes in other sports, with golf’s Michelle Wie, NFL players Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett as well as multiple Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt offering their backing.
“You shouldn’t ever have to make a decision like this — but so damn impressive taking the high road when the powers that be don’t protect their own. Major respect,” wrote NBA All Star Steph Curry.