By Hritika Sharma
(Reuters) – Iga Swiatek has her sights set on back-to-back French Open crowns despite a recent thigh injury and the world number one remains optimistic of being fully fit for her opening round match on Tuesday.
Swiatek was forced to retire from her Italian Open quarter-final against eventual champion Elena Rybakina after suffering the injury, but said the extra days off could help her as she chases a third Roland Garros title in four years.
Having won the claycourt tournament in Stuttgart last month and finished runner-up to Aryna Sabalenka in Madrid, the Pole remains the favourite in Paris as she begins her 61st week at the top of the WTA rankings.
“Luckily nothing serious happened, so I had a couple of days off,” Swiatek said on Friday. “I’m still recovering from the thigh injury, but I’ll be good for my first round. That’s the most important thing for me.
“Having this time to reset and think about other stuff and just calm down for a couple of days was really helpful. And also to analyse what happened during the whole clay season.
“It’s a nice way to go to the last tournament of the clay season with all the knowledge I gained.”
Swiatek, who turns 22 this week, will face Spain’s Cristina Bucsa in the first round on Court Philippe-Chatrier while Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina takes on Czech qualifier Brenda Fruhvirtova.
Tunisian Ons Jabeur also picked up an injury in the build-up to the French Open but said she has returned to full fitness after a calf problem prevented her from defending her Madrid title.
“(I am) definitely 100%. I was training with a lot of players, moving normally. Definitely finding my rhythm. The way I move on the court, I feel like (it) is much better,” said Jabeur, who reached two Grand Slam finals last year.
She will take on Italian Lucia Bronzetti on Tuesday, while last year’s finalist Coco Gauff faces Spain’s Rebeka Masarova, with former Grand Slam champions Victoria Azarenka and Bianca Andreescu clashing in the last match on Court Simonne-Mathieu.
In the men’s draw, second seed Daniil Medvedev arrives in Paris on the back of a marked improvement on clay having lifted his first title on the surface after beating Holger Rune to win this month’s Italian Open.
The Russian, a Paris quarter-finalist in 2021, has won five titles in a stellar year so far and will open against Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild.
“I for sure have more expectations than I usually had at Roland Garros,” Medvedev said. “But I know that it’s also tricky.”
Norway’s Casper Ruud, who finished runner-up to Rafa Nadal in last year’s final, faces Swede Elias Ymer while Denmark’s Rune takes on American Christopher Eubanks.
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad; Editing by Toby Davis)
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