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Roland Garros 2019 Day 5 Preview: Osaka, Anisimova and Fritz Featured

A fortnight-long festival of clay court tennis that happens but once a year, there’s always a lot to look forward to at the French Open. However, for the players who spend months building towards it, only to have their participation cut short by illness or injury, it can be equally heartbreaking.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly where Kiki Bertens and Bianca Andreescu find themselves after Wednesday. Bertens, the star of the clay season, forced to retire from her second round match with an undisclosed illness, and Andreescu, the breakout star of the sunshine swing, unable to even take the court for hers with a right shoulder injury.

Of course, dealing with the frailties of the human body is part of the game, but that doesn’t make it suck any less. Here’s hoping Bertens and Andreescu have a speedy recovery, and the next time we see them in Paris, they’ll be able to compete at their fullest/

Here’s your three to see on Thursday at Roland Garros:

Amanda Anisimova (USA) v Aryna Sabalenka (BEL) [11] – First on Court 1

I wrote while previewing Aryna Sabalenka’s first-round match that her 2019 had been “a tad underwhelming”, and whaddaya know? Now she gets the young woman largely responsible for it. Handing Sabalenka a third-round exit at the AO with a stunning 6-3, 6-2 beatdown, 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova was completely unfussed by the big-hitting Belarusian, who simply couldn’t find a way to dislodge Anisimova from the baseline, and the young American made her pay by constantly redirecting her pace at sharp angles. On clay it will be it will be fascinating to see if Anisimova can repeat the feat, but even if she doesn’t, the match-up of puncher and counter-puncher should make for a real popcorn affair.

Naomi Osaka (JPN) [1] v Victoria Azarenka (BEL) – First on Suzanne Lenglen

Giving a first-round performance was so bad that you could almost claim a tax write-off for a charitable contribution, it’s safe to say Naomi Osaka has a lot of work to do if she wants to make it three majors on the trot. Indeed, really the only thing that kept her in the tournament was that Anna Karolina Schmiedlova had no experience winning on such a high-profile stage, but you know who does? Victoria Azarenka. Simply put, this is an immense test for Osaka, and with Azarenka looking solid in her own first-round win over Jelena Ostapenko, it wouldn’t be outrageous for the Japanese to fail. That said, even if Osaka does come through, she’s going to be subjected to a few hours of punishing baseline tennis, and while it might not be too much fun for her, it definitely will be for us.

Taylor Fritz (USA) v Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) [18] – Fifth on Court 6

A match that’s almost guaranteed to fly under the radar, do yourself a favour and make time for this tasty matchup between Roberta Bautista Agut and Taylor Fritz. A chance at immediate revenge for “RBA”, Fritz managed to best the Spaniard 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 last week in the Lyon quarterfinals, and has proven to be much better on the dirt than many of his serve-and-forehand, American-style counterparts. Not too shabby with the forehand himself, RBA isn’t going to be content to just grind Fritz out over five sets, and that means we should be treated to some explosive rallies and a real rollercoaster of a tennis match.

GUARDIAN TENNIS: Naomi Osaka stages recovery to beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

GUARDIAN TENNIS: Naomi Osaka stages recovery to beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

• World No 1 recovers from terrible start against Slovakian
• Kyle Edmund knocks out Jérémy Chardy after marathon

Naomi Osaka has handed out enough bagels in her career to open a bakery but the world No 1 experienced the humiliation herself before recovering to beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 0-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1 – one of the oddest scores at this French Open.

The last time Osaka was nilled it was in good company – Simona Halep paying her back in Rome last year for suffering the same fate at Indian Wells. But she can hardly have expected it from Schmiedlova, the Slovakian world No 90, who twice served for the match.

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Tue, 28 May 2019 18:10:30 GMT

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GUARDIAN TENNIS: Naomi Osaka loses to Kristina Mladenovic days after coach split

GUARDIAN TENNIS: Naomi Osaka loses to Kristina Mladenovic days after coach split

• Osaka beaten 6-3, 6-3 in Dubai
• Australian Open winner parted with Sascha Bajin this month

The world No 1, Naomi Osaka, crashed out of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships after losing in straight sets against France’s Kristina Mladenovic.

Osaka, who announced a surprise split from her coach Sascha Bajin this month, was beaten 6-3 6-3 in the second round, having received a first-round bye as the top seed.

Related: Naomi Osaka’s split with Sascha Bajin a sign of the times and her steeliness | Kevin Mitchell

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Tue, 19 Feb 2019 17:26:44 GMT

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GUARDIAN TENNIS: Naomi Osaka: split with coach was refusal to put ‘success over happiness’

GUARDIAN TENNIS: Naomi Osaka: split with coach was refusal to put ‘success over happiness’

• Two-time slam champion parted with Sascha Bajin this month
• World No 1 said rumours of money issues are ‘hurtful’

Naomi Osaka is adamant that her surprise split with the coach Sascha Bajin had nothing to do with money but was because she refused to put “success over happiness”.

The German had guided the Japanese player to back-to-back grand slam titles as well as to the summit of the WTA rankings, rising from No 72 at the start of 2018 to No 1. But only two weeks after her win at Melbourne Park, Osaka abruptly severed ties with Bajin. That led to suggestions the two had fallen out over money.

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Mon, 18 Feb 2019 12:31:32 GMT

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GUARDIAN TENNIS: Naomi Osaka’s split with Sascha Bajin a sign of the times and her steeliness | Kevin Mitchell

GUARDIAN TENNIS: Naomi Osaka’s split with Sascha Bajin a sign of the times and her steeliness | Kevin Mitchell

Few saw the parting coming but it demonstrates the impermanence of the player-coach relationship at the top of world tennis

Naomi Osaka splitting with her coach, Sascha Bajin, after little more than a year and two grand slam triumphs together shocked many people in tennis but, if the world No 1 wants no more than to explore new strategies and schedules, it could lift her even further away from her rivals.

They announced the divorce on Twitter on Monday and have issued no statements since. The Japanese media are speculating they started to grow apart towards the end of the Australian Open last month, claiming she did not agree with some of his ideas and even practised alone, but that did not appear to be the case at the time, as she powered on to her second slam title in a row at just 21, with his happy endorsement.

Related: World No 1 Naomi Osaka splits with coach two weeks after Australian Open win

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Tue, 12 Feb 2019 14:47:40 GMT

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GUARDIAN TENNIS: World No 1 Naomi Osaka splits with coach two weeks after Australian Open win

GUARDIAN TENNIS: World No 1 Naomi Osaka splits with coach two weeks after Australian Open win

  • Sascha Bajin helped Osaka to two straight major titles
  • WTA coach of the year wishes Japanese all the best

Naomi Osaka has split from coach Sascha Bajin, a little more than two weeks after she won the Australian Open to secure a second consecutive grand slam title and moved to No 1 in the WTA rankings.

“Hey everyone, I will no longer be working together with Sascha,” Osaka posted on Twitter. “I thank him for his work and wish him all the best in the future.”

Related: Ashleigh Barty-led Australia knock US out of Fed Cup

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Tue, 12 Feb 2019 00:26:07 GMT

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