Coming into the French Open, Naomi Osaka talked about wanting to win the career grand slam or even calendar year grand slam.
And why not think that big? The hugely talented Osaka has claimed the last two majors and soared to No. 1 in the rankings.
The Japanese megastar could still achieve those goals this year after battling her nerves and escaping against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in Tuesday’s first round match in wet and windy Paris.
Twice in the second set Schmiedlova served for the biggest win of her topsy-turvy career but both times the 90th-ranked Slovak was broken and Osaka prevailed 0-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 to narrowly avoid becoming the second women’s top seed to lose her opener in Paris.
“I think this is the most nervous I have ever been my entire life during a match,” Osaka told reporters. “I think you could see that in the first set. I was literally not hitting any balls in the court.
“For me, today was weird because usually the nerves go away, but it kind of stayed the entire match. Then I just felt like it was a fight of willpower.”