French Open: Jabeur relief after difficult win and Alcaraz through despite sudden slump

Tunisian and Spaniard made to work for their respective second-round victories over Camila Osorio and Jesper de Jong

Ons Jabeur celebrates after beating Camila Osorio in the second round of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 29, 2024. AFP
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Ons Jabeur recovered from a second-set collapse to defeat Camila Osorio in a rollercoaster second-round match at the French Open on Wednesday.

The Tunisian eighth seed appeared to be in control after breaking her Colombian opponent three times on the way to taking the opening set 6-3 under the roof on Court Suzanne Lenglen with heavy rain falling yet again in Paris.

Jabeur hardly put a foot wrong, combining power and finesse to put 22-year-old Osorio on the back foot, but a fall in the second set upset her rhythm.

And any thoughts Jabeur had of following up her comfortable first-round victory over Sachia Vickery with another easy win were quickly banished when the world No 77 raced into a 4-1 lead before seeing out the second set in just 30 minutes.

Jabeur, who reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros last year, seemed to have regained her composure with an early break in the decider only to miss out on a 3-0 advantage, despite leading 40-0 on serve.

The three-time Grand Slam finalist then broke again to take a commanding 4-1 lead only for her seemingly fragile confidence to be shaken again with Osario pulling it back to 4-3.

But, after yet another break, Jabeur held her serve, and her nerve, to secure a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 victory and a spot in Round 3 where she will face either 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez of Canada or China's Wang Xiyu.

Meanwhile, home hope Caroline Garcia's French Open dreams are over for another year after she was beaten 6-3, 6-3 by Sofia Kenin on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

“Her game annihilates my strong points. She takes the ball early. She changes directions. She returns quite well,” Garcia said. “That actually makes her difficult to outplay.”

American Kenin has struggled in recent years due to injuries after winning the 2020 Australian Open and reaching the final in Paris later that year before losing to Iga Swiatek. She is now No 56 in the rankings, after once being as high as No 4, and has bowed out in the first or second round at six of the past seven Grand Slam tournaments.

The 25-year-old's 2024 season so far has not been great, with seven losses coming in opening matches with a 4-13 overall record. But that did not stop her beating 21st seed Garcia in 85 minutes.

“This is the place where you want everything to come together,” said Kenin, who will now take on Jelena Ostapenko or Clara Tauson. “At the start of the year, I wasn’t playing as I am playing right now. I feel like I’m definitely more fitter, doing the right things from my end: fitness, diet, everything. Obviously it’s paying off.”

In the men's draw, third seed Carlos Alcaraz is through to Round 3 but only after suffering a sudden drop in form midway through his match against Dutch qualifier Jesper de Jong.

The Spaniard was forced to work hard for a two-set lead under the Court Philippe-Chatrier roof but 176th-ranked De Jong refused to be intimidated and extended the match as Alcaraz suffered a third-set slump.

An error-strewn Alcaraz continued to struggle as the first four games of the fourth set all went against serve with the 21-year-old becoming increasingly frustrated on court.

He regained some control in the nick of time to hold serve for a 3-2 lead and broke De Jong in the next game before eventually accelerating to a 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 win.

“In this kind of tournament, every player can give you trouble,” said the two-time Grand Slam champion. “You have to be focused in every game, every point, every match. You have to play at your best if you want to get through.

“I want to be in good shape for the next round but every match is different. It's good for me to get the rhythm but I prefer to spend less hours on court.”

Ninth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas is through after also being taken to four sets, with the Greek eventually beating Germany's Daniel Altmaier 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 6-4.

“Fighting yourself. This is something that will happen during a match. You have to fight your emotions and feelings,” Tsitsipas said of his loss of concentration after racing through the first two sets in less than an hour.

“The biggest war you have is with yourself. You have to figure that out and get it out of the way. I was down in the score. I didn’t give up. I’ve had plenty of comebacks in the past and I’ve learnt from those.”

Updated: May 29, 2024, 4:28 PM