Victoria Azarenka narrowly escaped becoming the first women’s top seed to lose in the first round of the French Open when she recovered from losing the opening set to beat Italian Alberta Brianti 6-7 6-4 6-2 on Monday.
Azarenka,10 years younger and 104 ranking places higher than her opponent,was in patchy form,giving away breaks with double faults and errors and screaming in anguish at her own mistakes.
After losing the first-set tiebreak 6-8,the Belarussian world number one found herself five points from defeat as she was 0-4 and break point down in the second set.
However,just when it seemed that Brianti was on the verge of winning her first match at Roland Garros in five appearances,Azarenka put the Italian under pressure in a long fifth game.
The Australian Open champion clawed her way back,then broke to love in the eighth game of the third set to take victory in two hours 16 minutes.