Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep will be out to defend their French Open titles when the second grand slam of the year starts at Roland Garros on Sunday.

Nadal will have to fend off a fearsome Novak Djokovic, who is seeking to hold all four slams at once for the second time in his career, and Roger Federer if he is to extend his own record and win the trophy for a 12th time.

Halep ended her wait for a first major when she triumphed over Sloane Stephens in Paris last year. The Romanian too has plenty of elite competition, with world number one Naomi Osaka looking to emulate a Serena Williams achievement, who again has history in her sights as she attempts to tie Margaret Court's record by winning her 24th slam.

Two days out from the start of this year's battles for the Coupe des Mousquetaires and the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen, we look at some of the best Opta facts ahead of the 2019 tournament.

 

Men's singles

- In the last 25 years only five times has the number one seed won the tournament: Nadal (2018, 2014 and 2011), Djokovic (2016) and Gustavo Kuerten (2001).

- Djokovic has not made it past the quarter-finals in his most recent two appearances at the French Open after reaching the semi-finals in his six previous tournaments, which included making four finals. 

- Federer has not appeared at the French Open since 2015 and has not reached the semi-finals of this tournament since 2012. Federer has won 20 grand slam titles but only one at Roland Garros.

- Dominic Thiem is the only player to have reached at least the semi-finals at Roland Garros in each of the past three years. He has not reached the semi-finals in any other grand slam tournament.

- Eighteen different players have won the French Open since the last time it was won by a French player (Yannick Noah in 1983).

- Gael Monfils, the highest-ranked Frenchman in the draw, has reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros only once in the past five years (2014), after reaching that stage in three of his five previous appearances.

Women's singles

- Halep is aiming to become the first woman to win successive French Open titles since Justine Henin (2005, 2006, 2007).

- If Halep reaches the final she will be only the third player, after Henin (2005, 2006, 2007) and Maria Sharapova (2012, 2013, 2014), to play in three consecutive finals at Roland Garros since 2000. 

- Halep has not reached the quarter-finals in any of the three grand slam tournaments she has appeared in since she won the title at Roland Garros in 2018.

- Osaka is aiming to become the first woman to win three successive grand slam titles since Serena Williams, who won the 2014 US Open and then the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in 2015.

- Osaka has won the past two grand slam tournaments (US Open and Australian Open) but has never reached the last 16 at Roland Garros.

- Williams has not won any of the past eight grand slams, with her last triumph coming at the Australian Open in 2017 – this is her longest span without a major title since 2002.

Aryna Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia were each taken the distance but battled into the semi-finals at the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Thursday. 

Second seed Sabalenka and fourth seed Garcia are on course for a final meeting this weekend after a pair of three-set victories.

Sabalenka came through a rollercoaster clash with Monica Puig in which she dominated the first and third sets to advance 6-1 3-6 6-2.

Meanwhile, Garcia recovered from an early deficit to defeat Marta Kostyuk 3-6 6-3 6-2 and set up a clash with fellow Frenchwoman Chloe Paquet.

Garcia had trailed the 16-year-old in the second set, too, before staging a recovery to avoid embarrassment.

Paquet dumped out Daria Gavrilova, while Sabalenka will play sixth seed Dayana Yastremska, who saw off Fiona Ferro.

At the Nuremberg Cup, top seed Yulia Putintseva and second seed Katerina Siniakova also needed three sets to reach the last four.

Putintseva will face Sorana Cirstea, while Siniakova takes on Tamara Zidansek 

World number one Naomi Osaka could meet Serena Williams in the French Open quarter-finals, while defending champion Simona Halep will start against Ajla Tomljanovic.

Osaka is chasing a third consecutive grand slam title at Roland Garros, having triumphed at the US Open last year and the Australian Open in January.

The Japanese will face Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the first round before the prospect of a tricky clash against either 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko or two-time Melbourne winner Victoria Azarenka.

Osaka's task will only become tougher as she advances through the tournament, with a potential meeting with Williams, who boasts 23 major titles, in the last eight.

Williams, who withdrew from the Internazionali d'Italia last week after one match, plays Vitalia Diatchenko first.

Meanwhile, Halep will also be required to come through a blockbuster quarter-final if she is to win a second grand slam at the scene of her first triumph.

Sixth seed Petra Kvitova could await Halep in the fifth round.

A standout opening match sees Venus Williams play Elina Svitolina, with one of the pair possibly facing 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza in the third round.

Karolina Pliskova, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki are all in the bottom quarter of the draw.

The world of tennis will descend upon Paris this weekend for the start of the French Open.

Novak Djokovic has an opportunity to become just the second man to hold all four major titles on two separate occasions at Roland Garros, but Rafael Nadal is always a leading contender for success on clay.

There is no clear-cut favourite in the women's draw, though Naomi Osaka can win a third straight grand slam and consequently match a feat only previous achieved by seven women in the Open Era.

Ahead of the tournament, three Omnisport writers put their necks on the line and share their picks for glory.

 

JON FISHER

My women's tip: Simona Halep

Halep will return to Paris seeking to become just the sixth woman to retain her crown at Roland Garros in the Open Era. The Romanian claimed her maiden grand slam title 12 months ago after beating Sloane Stephens in a three-set final and comes back as favourite despite a mixed start to 2019. She reached the final of the Madrid Open – losing to Kiki Bertens – but made a second-round exit a few days later in Rome. Halep has proved she has the game and the temperament to win on the biggest stage, though, and, in what appears a wide-open event, can be backed to emerge victorious once again.

My men's tip: Novak Djokovic

Nadal's inconsistent clay-court performances in 2019 have given renewed hope to a pack forever in the slipstream of the relentless Spaniard. Nadal did edge out Djokovic in the Rome final, but the Serbian is unquestionably the most likely to capitalise should the draw open up. Djokovic's sole triumph at Roland Garros came in 2016 but the four-time finalist is in good form – a runner-up finish at the Foro Italico coming after victory in the Madrid Open.

Ones to watch: Belinda Bencic and Fabio Fognini

Bencic has re-emerged as a major player on the WTA Tour after a rankings slump caused by injury and a dramatic loss of form. The Swiss does not fear reputations, evidenced by her Rogers Cup success which saw her beat four top-10 players as a prodigiously talented 18-year-old in 2015. Having regained her mojo, Bencic beat world number one Naomi Osaka en route to the semi-finals of the Madrid Open in May. Now 15th in the world, she could go deep if the favourites falter.

Bencic's reputation as a dangerous floater on the women's side is matched on the men's by Fognini. The enigmatic Italian holds most matches on his racket depending on his mood. A woeful defeat to 101-ranked Jiri Vesely in his clay-court season opener in Marrakech in April was followed just a week later by victory at the Monte Carlo Masters – a run that saw him beat Nadal in the semis. Whether he can wake up on the right side of the bed every day for a fortnight in Paris remains to be seen, but he has the game to challenge the world's best.

PETER THOMPSON

My women's tip: Kiki Bertens

Bertens made great strides last season and has gone from strength to strength this year. The 27-year-old from the Netherlands moved up to a career-high fourth in the rankings after beating French Open champion Halep in the final of the Madrid Open this month. Bertens also demonstrated her clay-court pedigree with runs to the last four in Stuttgart and Rome. She reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros three years ago and is much improved since then, packing a punch with her potent forehand and developing her all-round game to become a serious grand slam contender.

My men's tip: Rafael Nadal

Nadal has not been as dominant as usual on clay this season, but normal service was resumed when he claimed a first title of the year in Rome. The 'King of Clay' struck a big psychological blow by defeating Djokovic at the Foro Italico to be crowned champion in the Eternal City for the ninth time. Court Philippe-Chatrier was knocked down after the legendary Spaniard lifted the Coupe des Mousquetaires for an 11th time last year and, fitness permitting, the world number two will take some stopping as he aims to demolish his rivals yet again at Roland Garros.

Ones to watch: Sloane Stephens and Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stephens looked set to inflict more heartbreak on Halep last year before the Romanian came storming back to end her wait for an elusive major title. The 2017 US Open champion reached the quarter-finals and semi-finals in her first two clay-court tournaments of the season and is more than capable of banishing the memories of her defeat in the final 12 months ago.

Greek sensation Tsitsipas surged to a career-high sixth in the rankings after he was beaten by Nadal in the semi-finals in Rome following a loss to Djokovic in the final in Madrid. The fearless 20-year-old produced his best showing at a major when he reached the last four of the Australian Open in January and can ruffle more feathers on the red stuff in the French capital.

 

TOM WEBBER

My women's tip: Karolina Pliskova

Despite starting the season with glory in Brisbane, Pliskova's season has been blighted by illness since she lost the Miami Open final to Ashleigh Barty in March. After disappointing displays in Stuttgart and Madrid, Pliskova became just the third player to win multiple WTA Tour titles this year with success at the Internazionali d'Italia. The Czech - a semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2017 - may not have had to beat a single seed in Rome, but she is the form player heading to Paris and, with a strong record on clay in recent years, has a great opportunity to break her major duck.

My men's tip: Rafael Nadal

Since Nadal lifted the Coupe des Mousquetaires for the first time in 2005, he has only failed to triumph at Roland Garros on three occasions. No man has dominated a single tournament in the Open Era, let alone a major, in the manner of Nadal at the French Open. Although his performances on clay this season have not been as impressive as in past years and he considers Djokovic to be the favourite for success in Paris, the world number two looks in decent shape to claim an unprecedented 12th title after his victory over the Serbian in Rome.

Ones to watch: Serena Williams and Dominic Thiem

It is a rare thing for Williams to head to a major as an outsider for success, but that is the case at the French Open. Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 grand slam triumphs continues to hang over her but the 37-year-old has made two major finals since her return from giving birth and the complications that followed in September 2017. A troublesome knee caused her to pull out of a second-round match against sister Venus in Rome, but she should not be overlooked as a contender for the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.

Thiem has consistently proven a strong competitor on clay – all but four of his titles on the ATP Tour have been claimed on the surface. He scored a big win over Nadal en route to the trophy at the Barcelona Open in April and, although he fell to Fernando Verdasco in the second round in Rome, he has reached at least the semi-finals at Roland Garros in each of the past three years. The world number four will be keen to improve on his final defeat to Nadal last year and bring about his major breakthrough.

Simona Halep is the closest the WTA Tour has to a player of Rafael Nadal's dominance on clay, according to Karolina Pliskova.

The 'King of Clay' is once again the favourite to triumph in the men's singles at the French Open and extend his record at Roland Garros to 12 titles.

Halep ended her wait for a maiden grand slam title in Paris last year and 16 of her career finals have taken place on the dirt, the Romanian winning seven of them.

The world number three has won 75 per cent of her clay-court matches, losing just six on the surface across the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

She reached the final in Madrid before being surprisingly defeated by Marketa Vondrousova in Rome, but Pliskova believes Halep is the best the women's game has to offer on clay.

"Simona is playing great on clay, she's always tough to beat, doesn't matter which surface," Pliskova told Omnisport, speaking courtesy of Hublot. 

"I think she's in great shape right now, she's defending the title here, that's going to be difficult. On clay she's one of the best still, so I think for me Simona she's still a big favourite here.

"I think in women's [tennis] everything is a little bit different. There is no one really like Nadal. I think he's the strongest ever [to play] on clay so I don't think there is going to be anyone like him ever again.

"And women's is different. We are just different, you cannot compare with men's at all. Of course, if we look for somebody, I think Simona [Halep] is close to Nadal."

Despite her extremely high opinion of Halep, and Naomi Osaka having won the last two majors, Pliskova expects an open women's singles tournament.

She added: "There's really a chance for everybody so the good players they can have bad weeks but there are some new faces coming in, some young girls, and it can change and is changing quickly so some of the old faces are maybe not as good as they were before so it's changing and it's open.

"There is everything possible and maybe here there can be a new winner too. In a grand slam it can take nerves, it's two weeks, which is pretty long for a tournament, I think you really need to be strong to go far."

Pliskova is coming off the third clay title of her career having triumphed over Johanna Konta in the final in Rome, giving her a great deal of confidence for Roland Garros, where she was a semi-finalist in 2017.

"The start of the clay season was not the best for me, I was missing a couple of matches that I was hoping in Rome that I can get some, in the end I won the title, which was very special," said Pliskova. 

"I said it was like a miracle for me because I didn't expect I was going to win such a big tournament on clay. Coming into this tournament I feel good I have a couple of matches under my belt and hopefully I can play good tennis here too."

Elina Svitolina heads into the French Open with no expectations after a 2019 season that has so far been hampered by injuries.

The world number nine went into last year's tournament at Roland Garros as one of the favourites, having been seeded fourth, but lost in the third round to Mihaela Buzarnescu.

She won the WTA Finals at the end of 2018 but was struggling with shoulder and neck issues at the Australian Open, where she was beaten by eventual champion Naomi Osaka in the last eight.

That run was followed by semi-final appearances in Doha, Dubai and Indian Wells but, after taking a break due to knee pain following a second-round defeat in Miami, Svitolina has subsequently suffered back-to-back losses to Pauline Parmentier and Victoria Azarenka in Madrid and Rome.

As such Svitolina is not considered among the likely contenders for the title in south-west Paris, and that suits the Ukrainian perfectly.

"It's not been easy [because of injury] but I am trying to take one day at a time. I try to do all the recovery and preparation with my team and we don't rush anything," Svitolina told Omnisport, speaking courtesy of Hublot. 

"For me, I have no expectations for this slam, I will just take one match at a time and see how it goes but it's important just to focus on what you can do.

"I cannot say that clay is one of my favourites [surfaces] but I love to play on clay, I played on it when I was growing up when I was young.

"But I've been playing well on the hard courts as well so I just need time to prepare, to adjust and for me it's important to have enough time to practice and have confidence in it."

Defending champion Simona Halep insists she is not concerned by a crowded field of contenders as she concentrates on herself at the French Open.

Former world number one Halep ended her wait for a first grand slam title at Roland Garros last year, but she has won only one WTA Tour event since.

Meanwhile, Naomi Osaka has won consecutive grand slams in New York and Melbourne, with Kiki Bertens and Karolina Pliskova excelling in recent clay-court tournaments.

But Halep's focus is on her own improvement as the third seed prepares for a maiden major defence.

"All of them are very tough opponents, but I don't see my opponents as rivals," the Romanian told Omnisport, speaking courtesy of Hublot.

"I just try to learn from every match I play against them. I lost to Kiki in the final of Madrid, so if I play next time, I just want to be better than that match.

"I see all of my opponents the same so, for me, it's important to focus on myself every time."

Osaka is the world number one coming into the tournament, yet Halep believes rankings count for little at a grand slam.

"It matters to have some good matches before, along the road," she said. "But you never know. Every day you can play good tennis, even if you didn't have good matches before.

"For me, the ranking doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you are two, three, one, five. At this tournament, every match is difficult and every opponent is working hard.

"You just have to be focused, be prepared for everything, and try to give your best – that's the most important thing."

Halep is yet to win a Tour event this year and has suffered with hip and leg injuries, but the 27-year-old insists she is primed and ready for Roland Garros.

"I feel better, I feel ready to start the tournament," she said. "I had two finals this year, good finals, so I'm not disappointed about the start of the year.

"It's not always been the best year, so I'm trying more to enjoy my life, which I did, and I'm happier."

Halep had twice suffered defeat in the French Open final before last year's triumph over Sloane Stephens, and also lost the 2018 Australian Open final. 

Second seed Aryna Sabalenka set up an Internationaux de Strasbourg quarter-final against Monica Puig after cruising through the round of 16.

Sabalenka, the highest seed in the tournament following Ashleigh Barty's withdrawal, defeated Laura Siegemund 6-4 6-3 on Wednesday to advance in France. Puig saw off Astra Sharma and is up next.

Daria Gavrilova had enjoyed a relaxed day on Tuesday as compatriot Barty withdrew and rain intervened before a match with lucky loser Diana Marcinkevica.

But Gavrilova was required to make up for lost time as the action resumed, playing two matches in one day.

Marcinkevica was beaten in straight sets, before a trickier test against Amandine Hesse saw Gavrilova battle back to reach the last eight with a 4-6 6-2 7-5 win.

Meanwhile, fourth seed Caroline Garcia was required to finish her match with Shelby Rogers – winning the decider 6-3 - before facing Rebecca Peterson, a match she won in straight sets.

Dayana Yastremska raced through, thrashing two-time champion Sam Stosur, while Wang Qiang and Zheng Saisai crashed out.

At the Nuremberg Cup, defending champion Johanna Larsson let an early lead slip to go out to second seed Katerina Siniakova, as both also played twice in a day.

Yulia Putintseva won in straight sets, yet Ajla Tomljanovic was among four seeds to lose.

Ashleigh Barty has withdrawn from the Internationaux de Strasbourg through injury, with under a week to go before the French Open.

Barty, the highest ranked WTA player taking part in a Tour event this week, has a right arm problem and pulled out of her first-round match against fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova.

Lucky loser Diana Marcinkevica will move into her spot at the tournament.

"I felt that it was back - I tested myself, but this morning, I knew that I will not be able to play," said Barty.

"Next week there is Roland Garros. Then it's the grass season. I will have two very busy months.

"For now, the only thing to do is to spend two or three days without touching the racket. I hope that I will be 100 per cent next week."

All of Tuesday's play in Strasbourg was heavily impacted by inclement weather, meaning no matches were finished and a packed card is in store for Wednesday.

But there was more action at the Nuremberg Cup, where eighth seed Andrea Petkovic won 6-3 6-2 against Cagla Buyukakcay.

Anna-Lena Friedsam was another German player to win on home soil against Irina-Camelia Begu, while Laura Ioana Paar and Tamara Zidansek also progressed.

Internationaux de Strasbourg sixth seed Dayana Yastremska cruised past Pauline Parmentier to set up a second-round tie with Samantha Stosur.

Yastremska has struggled with illness and injury since winning the Thailand Open earlier in the season, but showed no signs of fatigue on Monday, 20 May 2019.

The 19-year-old made light work of Parmentier - a former Strasbourg semi-finalist - in the first set, though the Frenchwoman rallied in the second before Yastremska prevailed on her third match point.

Next up will be Stosur, who the Ukrainian defeated in straight sets at this year's Australian Open, after the 2011 US Open champion defeated Jessica Pegula 6-3 6-1.

Top seed Ashleigh Barty starts her tournament against Daria Gavrilova on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, there were surprise defeats for eighth seed Zhang Shuai, who lost 6-4 6-1 to Astra Sharma, and fifth seed Sofia Kenin, beaten in straight sets by Chloe Paquet.

Rain prevented play in all but one match at the Nuremberg Cup, with Mona Barthel overcoming Paula Ormaechea 6-3 3-6 6-2.

Aryna Sabalenka enjoyed a welcome confidence boost on clay ahead of the French Open, thrashing Zhu Lin 6-0 6-1 in round one of the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

Sabalenka came into Sunday's match having not won on the red dirt for more than a year, after respective first-round losses in Madrid and Rome to Svetlana Kuznetsova and Alize Cornet.

However, the Belarusian needed just 47 minutes to prevail against China's Zhu, who was totally outclassed and won only 17 points.

Next up for Sabalenka - the second seed in Strasbourg - is a meeting with Laura Siegemund or Renata Zarazua.

Wang Qiang, Rebecca Peterson, Fiona Ferro and Zheng Saisai also progressed to round two on Sunday, the latter needing two tie-breaks to beat French wildcard Harmony Tan.

There were two retirements on day one of the Nuremberg Cup, with Vera Lapko and Dalila Jakupovic unable to complete their respective matches against Sara Sorribes Tormo and top seed Yulia Putintseva.

Evgeniya Rodina was the other player to bow out, the seventh seed losing 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 to Madison Brengle.

Karolina Pliskova sealed her second title of the season by defeating Johanna Konta in straight sets in the final of the Internazionali d'Italia on Sunday.

Pliskova has been blighted by illness since she finished as runner-up at the Miami Open in March, but she was in fine form as she overcame Konta 6-3 6-4 to become the first Czech to win the women's singles in Rome since 1978.

The 27-year-old, who lost in the second round in Stuttgart and Madrid, will consequently move up to second in the rankings ahead of the French Open.

Pliskova dropped just two sets across the entire tournament, during which she did not have to face a single seed.

Konta was broken in her first service game when she found the net after a double fault and, although she saved a set point with a fine cross-court forehand, she missed a glorious chance to break back in the next.

The fourth seed held from there to take the opener and Konta - who reached the final in Rabat this month - managed to save a break point to avoid immediately falling behind in the second.

Pliskova threw her racket in frustration after failing to convert a third break point in game seven, but a brilliant forehand saw her get the job done at the fifth time of asking in the set.

Konta staved off a pair of match points to get to deuce but buried a forehand into the net to give Pliskova the trophy.

Karolina Pliskova had no need to repeat her histrionics from a year ago as she defeated Maria Sakkari to set up an Internazionali d'Italia final against Johanna Konta, who defeated the in-form Kiki Bertens.

It was at the same tournament in Rome in 2018 that the usually placid Pliskova lost her cool in a round-two match with Sakkari over a disputed line call, leading to the Czech smashing her racket against the umpire's chair and ultimately receiving a fine.

But Pliskova was all smiles after Saturday's semi-final against her Greek opponent as the fourth seed ran out a 6-4 6-4 victor to reach Sunday's showpiece.

Sakkari claimed the first break to take a 2-1 lead that she consolidated, only for Pliskova to hit back after a short break for rain.

Pliskova made it four games in a row by breaking again to take the first set and both players had to save break points early in the second.

It looked as though the set may be headed for a breaker until Sakkari once again failed to hold at 5-4 down, with Pliskova clinically breaking to love.

Bertens was heavy favourite against Konta having won eight straight matches on clay, including winning the title in Madrid.

Konta scored a first top-five win in over two years, though, recording a 5-7 7-5 6-2 triumph in the Italian capital.

The Briton had the chance to serve out for the first set but lost three straight games to cede the advantage.

But a crucial break at 5-5 in the second set the tone for a final-set cruise and Konta is now into her biggest final since winning the Miami Open in 2017.

Naomi Osaka's withdrawal preceded a fine birthday present for Johanna Konta, while there were three-set quarter-final wins for Karolina Pliskova and Maria Sakkari at the Internazionali d'Italia.

Top seed Osaka was forced to pull out in Rome ahead of her last-eight clash with Kiki Bertens due to a hand injury, opening up the draw for the remaining players.

Konta celebrated turning 28 in style by winning a three-setter with Marketa Vondrousova, while Pliskova also lasted the distance against Victoria Azarenka to seal a landmark win.

And Sakkari roared back against Kristina Mladenovic to maintain her hopes of triumphing at the WTA Premier event.

 

HAPPY BIRTH-CLAY, JO…

Konta is enjoying a career resurgence. The Briton reached a first final in almost 12 months in Rabat a fortnight ago, while she is now in her biggest semi since Wimbledon in 2017.

It was a back-and-forth match against Vondrousova, but ultimately Konta ran out a 6-3 3-6 6-1 victor.

Before this year, Konta had never managed to win three main-draw matches on clay in a given season but she now faces Bertens for a place in the final.

500 NOT OUT FOR PLISKOVA

In a battle between two former world number ones, Pliskova ousted Azarenka 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-2 for her 500th career victory.

Pliskova, this season's leader in three-set wins, was beaten by the same opponent in Stuttgart last month but has now levelled their head-to-head meetings at 4-4.

"I think the last couple years I know I'm playing a lot of three-setters," said Pliskova. 

"I'm not panicking if I lose first set or even the second. I'm just there. I keep fighting. I feel quite confident coming to the third set, because I know I won quite a lot in last couple of years."

Mladenovic seemed destined for the semis after taking the first set against Sakkari, but the Greek roared back to triumph 5-7 6-3 6-0.

Naomi Osaka admitted her clay-court form ahead of the French Open has been "rocky" after she withdrew from the Internazionali d'Italia on Friday due to injury.

The defending US Open and Australian Open champion pulled out of her quarter-final clash with Kiki Bertens in Rome after waking up with pain and swelling at the base of her right thumb.

It was the second time in three tournaments that the 21-year-old had withdrawn due to injury, with an abdominal problem ending her run at the Stuttgart Open.

Osaka, who lost in the last eight of the Madrid Open this month, will be the top seed and world number one at the French Open, but she conceded her injury problems have been frustrating as she bids to make it three grand slam titles in a row.

"I would describe [the clay season] as rocky," she told reporters on Friday.

"I can't necessarily say it's been ups and downs because if I think about it, it's definitely been going up.

"Every match that I've played, I've learned a lot. I've tried to take what I've learned into the next match and I think I've done that well.

"But the injury part is very annoying. I feel like the ab thing could have been helped, but this one I don't think I could have helped because I don't know what caused it. I don't know why I have it.

"I feel there are preventable injuries and ones where you have to just take it how it is."

Osaka is not the only one to have suffered injury problems this week.

Serena Williams was unable to face sister Venus because of a recurrence of a knee injury, Caroline Wozniacki retired from her first-round match because of a calf complaint and Simona Halep, the defending French Open champion, needed treatment on a leg injury during her second-round loss to Marketa Vondrousova.

Osaka suffered her problem just nine days out from the French Open beginning and she expressed her disappointment at being unable to face the in-form Bertens, who beat Halep in the Madrid Open final last weekend.

"I woke up this morning and couldn't really move my thumb," Osaka explained.

"I tried to practice and grip my racquet, but I couldn't, and I kept feeling this pain when I tried to move my hand in different directions.

"Right now, I'm really not mad but in between sad and disappointed because I really wanted to play my match today. For me, it was sort of a test to play against Kiki because she's playing really well, and I wanted to see how well I could do today."

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