French Open 2023: Iga Swiatek continues his title defence; Casper Ruud and Elena Rybakina are also in action

Iga Swiatek beat Spain’s Cristina Bucsa in straight sets in the first round of the French Open
Dates: 28 May-11 June Venue: Roland Garros, Paris
Coverage: Live text and radio commentaries of selected matches across BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, the BBC Sport website and app

Defending champion Iga Swiatek says she is not concerned by records as she continues her bid for a third French Open win in four years.

The Polish world number one faces American Claire Liu in the second round on Thursday.

A third title would see her equal Serena Williams and Monica Seles’ record at Roland Garros, but such numbers do not interest Swiatek.

“I don’t even know these records,” the 21-year-old said.

“I play tennis but I’m not really an expert in terms of statistics and history, so I’m not really focused on that.

“I never even played Serena or Monica Seles. I’m kind of living my own life and having my own journey.”

Top-10 seeds Our Jabeur of Tunisia, Kazakh Elena Rybakina and American Coco Gauff will feature during the day on Thursday.

However, the night session features a men’s singles for the fourth time in five days with former semi-finalist Alexander Zverev taking on Alex Molcan.

Danish sixth seed Holger Rune’s match against home favourite Gael Monfils had initially been scheduled for the late session on Court Philippe Chatrier, but Monfils withdrew on Wednesday with injury, handing Rune a walkover.

Last year’s runner-up Casper Ruud and Italian eighth seed Jannik Sinner are also in action on the fifth day.

Night sessions remain under scrutiny

The night sessions, promoted as the highlight of the day at a major, have yet to feature a women’s match.

The tournament was heavily criticised last year when only one of the 10 night session matches involved a female player, and director Amelie Mauresmo said in May that she could not promise there would be an equal share of men’s and women’s matches in the future.

Thursday’s line-up includes Grand Slam champions Swiatek and Rybakina as well as crowd favourite Jabeur, but Zverev will take on Molcan on the showcourt after Monfils pulled out with a wrist problem.

“I’m on the player council, and we’ve had a lot of conversations about this, and we’ve had a lot of conversations about equality,” American Sloane Stephens, speaking before Thursday’s schedule was announced, said.

“Four out of four men’s matches. That’s not what we talk about. That’s not what we’re about. So there’s really not much to say about it.”

The French Open is the only Grand Slam to have one match during the night session rather than two.

Stephens also pointed to the way a night match can affect conditions on the Paris clay.

“Every single time I’ve played here, my last – I don’t even know how many French Opens I’ve played – there hasn’t been a night match,” she added.

“I think it kind of completely changes the dynamic of the tournament in itself. But nobody asked me for advice on what they should do, so it’s their tournament. They do as they please.”

French open day five key matches

Who else plays on Thursday?

In a stacked women’s draw, Australian Open runner-up Rybakina faces talented Czech Linda Noskova.

Sixth-seeded Gauff plays Austrian Julia Grabher and seventh seed Jabeur faces France’s Oceane Dodin as both seeds bid for a first major singles title.

Norway’s Ruud takes on Italian Julius Zeppieri while Sinner, another of the favourites for the title, faces German Daniel Altmaier on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

In the men’s doubles Britons Jamie Murray and Lloyd Glasspool are in second-round action.

Fifth seeds Glasspool and Finland’s Harri Heliovaara take on Belarusian Ilya Ivashka and Australian Alexei Popyrin.

Murray and New Zealand partner Michael Venus, the 13th seeds, face Colombian duo Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.

Elsewhere, Dutchman Jean-Julien Rojer and Argentine Marcelo Arevalo, the defending champions, meet Nicolas Barrientos of Colombia and American Robert Galloway.

2023-05-31 22:32:46
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