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French Open 2024: Aryna Sabalenka launches her Roland Garros campaign with statement victory

Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina make winning starts to the French Open while Alize Cornet bows out; You can watch Andy Murray in action at the Stuttgart Open, exclusively live on Sky Sports Tennis from June 10-16

Aryna Sabalenka
Image: Aryna Sabalenka opens up French Open campaign with statement victory against Erika Andreeva

Aryna Sabalenka launched her bid for a maiden French Open title and second Grand Slam crown of the year with a 6-1 6-2 first-round win over Russian teenager Erika Andreeva that will serve as a warning to her main rivals.

The 26-year-old, who successfully defended her Australian Open title earlier this year, arrived at Roland Garros as a top contender after strong results in the European clay swing and wasted little time to get going on Court Philippe Chatrier.

After breaking in the fourth game when 19-year-old Andreeva hit a double fault, Sabalenka fired up her forehand to quickly build up a 5-1 lead and closed out the opening set when her opponent sent a shot wide.

Sabalenka pounced on world number 100 Andreeva's serve again to grab the lead in the second set before handing the break back while attempting a chip from deep, but last year's semi-finalist promptly surged ahead 4-2 after saving more breakpoints.

Having neutralised the increased threat from Andreeva, she wrapped up the contest on serve in 68 minutes, finishing it off on her third matchpoint with a sublime drop shot at the net to huge cheers from the crowd.

Rybakina makes winning start

Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan looks on in the Women's Singles first round match against Greet Minnen of Belgium on Day Three of the 2024 French Open at at Roland Garros on May 28, 2024 in Paris, France. (Photo by Mateo Villalba/Getty Images)
Image: Elena Rybakina overcame Belgium's Greet Minnen to win her opening match at Roland Garros

World no.4 Elena Rybakina booked her place in the second round of the French Open with a hard-fought victory against Belgium's Greet Minnen.

The former Wimbledon champion won 10 games in a row but was still an unconvincing victor against unseeded Minnen.

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An uneven match saw the 24-year-old from Kazakhstan turn a 2-0 deficit in the first set into a commanding 6-2 4-0 lead.

Fourth seed Rybakina then dropped serve twice as Minnen threatened a comeback, but regained her composure to wrap up a 6-2 6-3 victory.

Cornet's emotional goodbye

France's Alize Cornet waves to spectators after her first round match of the French Open tennis tournament against China's Zheng Qinwen, at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
Image: France's Alize Cornet lost her first-round match at the French Open ahead of her retirement.

Roland Garros had to wave a third emotional farewell in three days after Alize Cornet lost her first-round match at the French Open.

Sales of tissues must have rocketed in Paris following the departure of former finalist Andy Murray on Sunday, and then 14-time champion Rafael Nadal's tear-jerking goodbye 24 hours later.

Cornet announced last month that she would be retiring after this year's home tournament.

The 34-year-old former world number 11, who twice made the fourth round, was granted a wild card and a spot on Court Philippe Chatrier for what she described as "the last dance".

She bowed out of her 20th Roland Garros, and her 72nd appearance at a grand slam, with a 6-2 6-1 loss to seventh seed Qinwen Zheng of China.

Cornet, who played her first French Open aged 15, said: "It's been a difficult day with a lot of emotion. It's a 20-year page that I'm turning and I'm going to a new chapter in my life.

"I wish I could have played better, but I gave everything I could to this sport."

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