PARIS (Reuters) – Former champion Garbine Muguruza narrowly avoided a first-round exit at the French Open on Monday when she battled for three hours to beat Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek 7-5 4-6 8-6.

The Spaniard, who reigned on the clay in 2016, looked in big trouble as she trailed 3-0 in the final set to the world number 83 but survived to fight another day.

Zidansek lost her only previous main-draw match at Roland Garros but asked all sorts of questions of Muguruza who struggled to hit through a tricky opponent.

Muguruza needed treatment for a blister on her hand at 3-4 in the final set and saved a break point in the next game.

She ended the match with 64 unforced errors but crucially played her best tennis when it mattered most, breaking the Zidansek serve at 6-6 with a crosscourt forehand winner before sealing victory on her first match point.

Former world number one Muguruza, playing in black leggings and a purple roll-neck zip-up top in the chilly conditions, had also hit back from 0-3 down to take the opening set.

But she dropped serve in the 10th game of the second to send the match into a decider.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon)

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