Elina Svitolina

Elina Svitolina beats Oceane Babel in French Open first round

World No. 6 Elina Svitolina defeated Oceane Babel in straight sets to book her place in the second round of the 2021 French Open.

The three time Roland Garros quarter-finalist beat 17-year-old qualifier Babel 6-2 7-5 in the first round.

“I was really happy to play on this court today, it is always special to play your opening match on Chatrier. It is nice weather and fans are in the stadium so it’s extra special” Svitolina said in her on-court interview.

“I am trying to learn French with Gael, but I am more stressed than when I’m playing tennis.”

The 26-year-old Ukranian dominated the opening set, winning it 6-2 in just 30 minutes after breaking serve twice.

Babel battled back and produced some great tennis to lead 2-5 in the second set. The 17-year-old qualifier will compete in the junior Grand Slam, which starts next week.

Svitolina hit back, winning 11 consecutive points to level the match at 5-5. The Ukranian used her experience and shot variety to gain a vital break at 5-5 before serving out the match.

Svitolina hit 21 winners, 28 unforced errors and converted 4/14 break points (29%).

The world No. 6 will face 20-year-old American qualifier Ann Li in the second round.