Osaka ‘Really Excited to Face’ Swiatek at French Open 

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 26, 2024 Japan's Naomi Osaka in action during her first round match against Italy's Lucia Bronzetti. (Reuters)
Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 26, 2024 Japan's Naomi Osaka in action during her first round match against Italy's Lucia Bronzetti. (Reuters)
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Osaka ‘Really Excited to Face’ Swiatek at French Open 

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 26, 2024 Japan's Naomi Osaka in action during her first round match against Italy's Lucia Bronzetti. (Reuters)
Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 26, 2024 Japan's Naomi Osaka in action during her first round match against Italy's Lucia Bronzetti. (Reuters)

Naomi Osaka says she is "really excited" to face red-hot tournament favorite Iga Swiatek in the French Open second round on Wednesday, when men's title contenders Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz are also in action.

Former world number one Osaka won a match at a Grand Slam event for the first time since the 2022 Australian Open with her opening victory over Lucia Bronzetti.

The Japanese star returned earlier this year after a 16-month hiatus from tennis to start a family.

Osaka has never got past the third round at Roland Garros, with all four of her Grand Slam titles having come on hard courts in Australia and the United States.

She said she avoided looking at the draw, but realized she could face Swiatek during her pre-tournament press conference.

"I was, like, 'Why does everyone keep asking me about this draw?'," Osaka said.

"Then I knew that I was in the top half, so I was, like, jokingly, 'Well, it's not like I'm playing Iga'. Then everyone got quiet. So I was like, 'Oh'."

Osaka will be a big underdog against Swiatek in the pair's first ever meeting on clay and only third match on any surface.

Swiatek is bidding to become only the fourth woman in the Open era to lift four Roland Garros titles and just the second -- after Serena Williams -- to complete the clay-court treble of Madrid, Rome and French Opens in the same season.

"I'm honestly really excited. I watched her a lot when I was pregnant," said Osaka of her opponent.

"And honestly, I think it's an honor to play her in the French Open, because she's won more than once here, for sure. It's a very big honor and challenge for me."

Osaka won her first meeting with a then-teenage Swiatek in Toronto in 2019, while the Pole came out on top in their other clash in the 2022 Miami Open final.

The 22-year-old Swiatek is not going to take anything for granted against Osaka, who showed flashes of her best form in Rome earlier this month, knocking out seeds Marta Kostyuk and Daria Kasatkina en route to the last 16.

"The matches that we played on hard court were always really intense and tough," said the current world number one.

"So I'm just glad that she came back and she's playing more tournaments even than before the break.

"Nowadays in the women's draw you can play Grand Slam champions early in the tournament.

"It is pretty tricky because you know these players are really experienced. They also achieved many great things. So they have a bigger kind of belief...

"So for sure it's not gonna be easy."

- Sinner faces Gasquet -

Men's second seed Sinner will have to quieten the French crowd when he faces home favorite Richard Gasquet in the night session match.

The Australian Open champion arrived at the tournament under an injury cloud after withdrawing from Madrid and skipping Rome with a hip problem.

Sinner cruised to a first-round win over Christopher Eubanks, though, and insisted he was feeling close to full fitness.

"The hip is good, I'm very happy," he said. "The general shape isn't at 100 percent yet so we're trying to build every day."

Wimbledon champion Alcaraz also missed out on Rome with a right arm injury, but was in fine form in his Roland Garros opener, dropping just four games against American lucky loser J.J. Wolf.

He will be expected to have few problems against Dutch qualifier Jesper de Jong on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, men's sixth seed Andrey Rublev, former French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas and women's Wimbledon winner Marketa Vondrousova also target places in the last 32.



Germany Looking to Book Spot in Euro 2024 Knockout Stage with Another Win against Hungary

Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer smiles during press conference of the German national soccer team in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Monday, June 17, 2024. (dpa via AP)
Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer smiles during press conference of the German national soccer team in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Monday, June 17, 2024. (dpa via AP)
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Germany Looking to Book Spot in Euro 2024 Knockout Stage with Another Win against Hungary

Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer smiles during press conference of the German national soccer team in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Monday, June 17, 2024. (dpa via AP)
Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer smiles during press conference of the German national soccer team in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Monday, June 17, 2024. (dpa via AP)

Germany faces Hungary on Wednesday in Stuttgart in their second Group A match. Germany tops the group after beating Scotland 5-1 in the opener while Hungary lost 3-1 against Switzerland. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. local time (1600 GMT). Here’s what to know about the match:

Match facts:

— Victory for Germany would all but guarantee a spot in the knockout stages and it would definitely advance if Switzerland also beats Scotland in the other group match.

— Another defeat would not end Hungary’s chances as it could still claim one of the four best third-place spots up for grabs.

— Germany is winless in its last three meetings against Hungary and was beaten 1-0 in the last game between the two teams, in September 2022.

— Germany had to twice come from behind when the teams met in the group stage at the last European Championship. That was the teams’ first competitive meeting since the 1954 World Cup final, won 3-2 by West Germany.

Team news:

— Hungary coach Marco Rossi is hopeful French-born midfielder Loic Nego will have recovered to face Germany after he was only fit for a place on the bench against Switzerland.

— Germany has reported no injury concerns.

By the numbers:

— Germany’s five goals scored against Scotland leaves it just one short of its best-ever group stage tally at the European Championship, when it scored six at Euro 2020.

— Hungary midfielder Ádám Nagy, who turned 29 on Sunday, could make his eighth tournament appearance if he plays against Germany. That would be a new record for Hungary, breaking the joint mark Nagy holds with former captain Ádám Szalai.

— Germany’s victory over Scotland saw the team win its European Championship opener for a record-extending eighth time.

What they’re saying:

“Hungary is an unpleasant opponent, they can sometimes be wild and they’re difficult to get a hold of. There are a lot of free spirits out there” — Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann.

“We beat them (Germany) in 2022, so I’m sure it will be an extra motivation for them. They’ll be thinking: ‘Not again.’ But it’s clear from the first game that this Germany side is a completely proposition to what they were back then or even last year.” — Hungary forward Martin Ádám.

“On the pitch you felt how every single one of our players was annoyed that we conceded. That is a good sign. Scoring goals is nice, but we are thinking defensively and want to have stability at the back.” — Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.