Birmingham | Osaka admits to being lucky
Naomi Osaka the world No.1 and top seed at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham, has admitted she is not that comfortable playing on grass but she succeeded in coming through her opening round despite a second set set-back.
I got lucky a little bit I guess. I knew she was going to be a very difficult opponent Naomi Osaka
She defeated Maria Sakkari to make the last-16 with a hard-fought 6-1 4-6 6-3 win and next faces Yulia Putintseva, a 6-1 6-4 winner over Britain’s Harriet Dart, a wild card entry.
In her first match since her third-round exit at the French Open, 21-year-old Osaka struggled with her first serve against the world number 33 and required two hours to dispatch her Greek opponent. In that time, she fired seven aces and broke her opponent’s serve five times.
“I was kind of screaming on the inside during that entire match,” Osaka admitted later
“I got lucky a little bit I guess. I knew she was going to be a very difficult opponent.”
Meanwhile, former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko stormed into the next round with a 6-0 6-2, 52-minute demolition of Poland’s rising star teenager Iga Swiatek and will face Jo Konta in round two.
Wednesday’s schedule pitches identical 27-year-old twins Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova, against each other for the first time at a WTA event, following Kristyna’s 6-3 6-4 defeat of Viktoriya Tomova which ensured she played her sister in the second round.
Right-handed world number three Karolina and left-handed world number 112 Kristyna have played each other at lower levels, with head-to-heads tied at 4-4, but they haven’t played against each other since 2012.
“It’s very strange to play her,” Kristyna said. “We share a bedroom this tournament. It’s family, so you don’t want something bad [for her] but still I want to win as well. So I’m not really happy about it.”
Also through is the eighth seed Julia Goerges who came from behind to beat Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska 3-6 6-4 6-3.
Play was suspended mid-afternoon forcing seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams’ match against Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich to be held over.