Fixture: (2) Naomi Osaka vs Patricia Maria Tig
Date: 30 May 2021
Tournament: Roland Garros 2021
Round: First round (Round of 128)
Venue: Paris, France
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Red Clay
Prize money: €17,171,108
Match timing: 11 am local time, 9 am GMT, 5 am EST, 2.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - ITV | India - Hotstar
Naomi Osaka vs Patricia Maria Tig preview
Naomi Osaka has historically never done well on clay. The 23-year-old has won four of the last six hardcourt Majors, but never made it past the first round at the French Open.
Last year Osaka chose to skip the clay swing entirely, given the pandemic-related travel restrictions. But things haven't been much better for her this year, as she bowed out early in both Madrid and Rome.
The Japanese comes into Paris with just one win under her belt on the surface this year.
Osaka has been in the news for off-court reasons too, having recently announced that she wouldn't be doing any press conferences at Roland Garros this year. The World No. 2 will kick off her campaign with a first-round match against the experienced Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday.
Tig comes into the tournament in desperate need of match wins herself. After reaching the third round in Paris in 2020, the Romanian has been in unusually poor form this year.
Tig has a win-loss record of 3-8 in 2021, and is yet to win a main draw match at a claycourt event this year. But despite her poor results this year, the 26-year-old can more than hold her own on clay.
Tig was nominated for the WTA Comeback of The Year award last year, after returning to tour-level action with a title in Istanbul.
Naomi Osaka vs Patricia Maria Tig head-to-head
The first-round encounter at Roland Garros is the second match between the two players, and Naomi Osaka currently leads the head-to-head 1-0 over Patricia Maria Tig.
The Japanese defeated Tig in three sets in the first round at Hua Hin back in 2015.
Naomi Osaka vs Patricia Maria Tig prediction
Naomi Osaka is the heavy favorite to win this match on paper, but her recent run of claycourt results doesn't inspire much confidence.
The Japanese's struggles on clay are primarily due to her inadequate movement and footwork; Osaka has herself admitted she can't slide on the surface. The 23-year-old also struggles to maintain the shape on her shots in long rallies, and often ends up leaking unforced errors against quality claycourters.
Moreover, her decision to sit out press conferences in Paris would only ramp up the pressure on Osaka to perform.
Tig, on her part, will look to get a quick start and move the Japanese around the court to test her movement. The Romanian may be woefully out of form and match practice herself, but she could well use her underdog status to her advantage on Sunday.
That said, the match will likely be on Osaka's racket given her natural ability and aggressive style of play. If she can keep calm and reduce her errors, she should be able to move into the next round - albeit with a hiccup or two along the way.
Prediction: Naomi Osaka to win in three sets.