It was the main poster of this first round of the women’s draw of the Australian Open. Caroline Garcia, French number one, began the competition this Monday, January 15, against the Japanese Naomi Osaka, winner in Melbourne in 2019 and 2021. Authoritative and solid in important moments, the Habs mastered this duel against the former number 1 worldwide. After 1 hour 26 minutes of play, the Lyonnaise won in two sets (6-4, 7-6 [7-2]).

“It was a difficult draw but, in a Grand Slam, every match is complicated,” Garcia said after the match, on Eurosport. My emotions have been playing a lot of tricks on me lately. I tried to remain as calm as possible. »

The context of this clash between the two players had nothing to do with their last meeting, three years ago, in this same competition – Naomi Osaka had easily won in two sets. The Japanese returned to competition at the beginning of January in Brisbane (Australia), after spending more than a year without playing. For her part, Caroline Garcia has had a series of checkered results in recent months, which suggested a shock with an uncertain outcome. During the last Grand Slam tournament of 2023, at the US Open, she lost in the first round to the Chinese Wang Yafan, 114th player in the world.

This January 15, the Rod Laver Arena witnessed a duel of hitters which turned to the advantage of the Habs. The first set was contested, but Caroline Garcia was solid during the decisive points. The two players punctuated the match with brief exchanges and brilliant shots. Effective on her service games, the Lyonnaise did not concede any break points in the match. In the second set, the number 20 in the WTA ranking made the difference over the Japanese in the tie-break (7-2) to achieve a controlled victory. In the second round, Caroline Garcia will face Polish Magdalena French, 69th in the world rankings.

Monfils wins, Mannarino scares himself

As for the other French people involved in this second day of competition, the top seeds responded, not without difficulty. Adrian Mannarino, world number 20, battled against Swiss Stan Wawrinka. Trailing two sets to one, he turned the situation around and won in five sets. Ugo Humbert, 21st in the ATP rankings, eliminated Belgian David Goffin (6-2, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3). The pre-tournament draw offers them an affordable second round, being respectively opposed to the Spaniard Jaume Munar (82nd in the world) and the Chinese Zhizhen Zhang (54th in the world).

At the same time, Gaël Monfils easily won against the German Yannick Hanfmann (6-4, 6-3, 7-5). The Frenchman will challenge the Argentinian Tomas Martin Etcheverry, who defeated Andy Murray in three sets. The Franco-French duel of this first round offered a breathtaking spectacle to the audience of the Australian Open, Hugo Grenier having eliminated Alexandre Muller in five sets and 4 hours 10 minutes of play. Lucas Van Assche and Varvara Gracheva also won their ticket for the second round.

This January 15 will remain a less good memory for Terence Atmane. While he was holding off against world number three, Russian Daniil Medvedev, having pocketed a set, the Frenchman suffered from cramps. In tears, he withdrew at the start of the fourth set. Benjamin Bonzi also held on to his much better ranked opponent of the day, the Italian Lorenzo Musetti, seeded number 25, before losing (6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 2-6 ). On court number 8, Constant Lestienne was unable to do anything, despite a good fight, against the Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (4-6, 4-6, 6-7). In the women’s draw Fiona Ferro, coming out of qualifying, was unable to get rid of the American McCartney Kessler (6-3, 3-6, 2-6).

The first round of the Australian Open will end on Tuesday January 16 with the entry into the running of Richard Gasquet, recently out of the world top 100 for the first time since 2005, who will have a hard time facing Carlos Alcaraz, head serial number 2.