Birmingham | Osaka crashes out
World number one Naomi Osaka, the reigning US and Australian Open champion, submitted to a straight-sets defeat by Yulia Putintseva at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham and could now be overtaken at the top of the rankings by Ashleigh Barty, providing the Australian wins the event this week.
The stars have aligned a little bit for me and I think when you get those opportunities you have to do your best to take them with both hands, Ashleigh Barty
Putintseva took full advantage Osaka’s unease at playing on grass, romping through their second-round match 6-2 6-3.
Putintseva made a blistering start to go 5-0 up in the first set and Osaka’s troubles on serve throughout the match ensured she never recovered.
Osaka dropped serve at the start of the second set but fought back to lead 3-2 before Putintseva won the last four games to close out the match in a little over an hour.
“I needed to be more free with my shots, and not worry about what happens. I was more aggressive and changed the rhythm; that helped me win the match,” Putintseva said.
Julia Goerges is next up for Putintseva after the 2018 Wimbledon semi-finalist defeated Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina 6-4 6-3.
French Open champion Barty meanwhile, eased into the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-1 victory over Jennifer Brady.
“The stars have aligned a little bit for me and I think when you get those opportunities you have to do your best to take them with both hands,” said Barty, the recently crowned French Open champion said.
“That’s what we have been able to do over the last month in particular but I feel like I’m comfortable in my own skin.
“I feel like I know exactly how I want to play in most matches, and it’s just about going out there trying to execute as best I can.”
Only the rain threatened to slow Barty as it delayed the start of the match and then briefly interrupted the second set.
Barty will face five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in the last eight after the 39-year-old proved too wily for Wang Qiang, winning 6-3 6-2.