Defending French Open champion Halep yet another Day 3 upset survivor

Defending French Open champion Halep yet another Day 3 upset survivor

As she's defending 2,000 ranking points, Simona will need to reach the final just to have a chance at staying in the Top 5.

Simona Halep kicked off her French Open title defense on Tuesday with a tricky 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 win over Ajla Tomljanovic.

Determined to avoid the slow start that nearly sent No. 1 seed Naomi Osaka packing, the defending champion came out sharp, running through the opening set in short order. Everything was working for the Romanian: her backhand was lethal, and her athleticism was on full display as she peppered the court with winners.

In the second set, Halep took her foot off the gas, allowing Tomljanovic to find her rhythm. After dropping the second set, Halep went back to her brand of tennis, aggressively counterpunching from the baseline, building a cushy lead to close out the match.

"In my opinion, it was a great match. The level was great, and actually her level in the second set was really high," Halep said. "So I had to be focused more on myself to find out what I have to play better in the third set to be able to win. And then I just started to feel that if I make her move, it's a little bit better for me, so I did that."

Halep is aiming to be the first woman to defend a Grand Slam title since 23-time major champion Serena Williams defended her Wimbledon trophy in 2016. The last woman to successfully defend her French Open title was Justin Henin in 2007. As she's defending 2,000 points, Halep will need to reach the final just to have a chance at staying in the Top 5.

"I don't put pressure on myself, negative pressure," Halep said. "Of course I feel the pressure, because I have also expectations for myself. I always play well here, so I want also this year to be the same. But I'm not going to put pressure on myself for the result. I don't know what is going to be. I have just to take the next round 100% serious, and then if I can go through, I will think about the third round."

The No. 3 seed, who came back from a set and a break against Sloane Stephens to lift her maiden Slam last year, will face off against Magda Linette in the second round.