Tokyo | Osaka advances via retirement, Haddad Maia next

Defending champion Naomi Osaka advanced after just 14 minutes on court when her opponent, Daria Saville, retired with an injury, while Fernanda Contreras Gomez defeated Sofia Kenin, and Beatriz Haddad Maia held off the impressive 21-year-old wild-card Yuki Naito, at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo on Tuesday.

I missed the beginning of the season because I broke my arm, so I had a slower start to the season, but I feel like in the summer in America I was playing really good matches. I reached the quarter-finals in the US Open, so I think I’m in good shape. Karolina Pliskova

Unseeded this week, Osaka won the title in her birthplace, Osaka, in 2019 before COVID-19 shut down the tournament for 2 years.

“I feel really bad right now, because of how it ended,” the Japanese No 1 told the fans at Ariake Coliseum “I’ve been injured for most of the year, so I just want people to clap for her, because she’s a really amazing player.”

Osaka was leading 1-0, 30-30, when Saville injured her left knee running for a short forehand, yelping in pain and collapsing onto the court in distress.

After receiving treatment and able to walk, Saville did not risk continuing, shaking hands with Osaka after playing just 11 points.

Osaka has had her own injury problems this year with Achilles and back issues, and the former World No 1 had not won a match since the beginning of August.

The Japanese next faces 5th-seeded Haddad Maia from Brazil, who posted a 6-4 6-2 win over Naito in an hour and 44 minutes.

Naito, the World No 210, battled hard in only her 2nd WTA main draw match but, despite some brilliance at net, Japan’s No 6 could not match Haddad Maia for power and consistency.

Daria Saville yelped in pain after injuring her left knee against Naomi Osaka and could not continue on Tuesday

© Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images

Meanwhile, Mexico’s Contreras Gomez’s made her main draw debut on the Hologic WTA Tour with a match to remember, taking out Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion, 7-6(7) 6-4, to score her first career win at this level.

Ranked No 131, Contreras Gomez will face 4th-seed Veronika Kudermetova in the next round, who received a 1st-round bye.

Despite coming into the main draw as a qualifier, the Mexican was the higher-ranked player in her Tokyo opener after Kenin, who reached a career-high No 4 in 2020, has seen her ranking slip to No 315 because of injury and illness and is now working her way back from injury.

Kenin has failed to win her first match in 10 of the 12 tournaments she has played in 2022 after coming off a year plagued by injuries.

After saving a set point late in the first-set tiebreak, Contreras Gomez dominated the second to build a 5-1 lead, but Kenin fought valiantly to put the set back on serve, before the Mexican broke the American one last time to seal the win after 1 hour and 46 minutes.

While Kenin’s topspin forehand still holds some magic, the 23-year old did not look match fit and the hard-serving Contreras Gomez only needed to stay consistent to gain the upper hand, slamming down 9 aces in the process.

The 24-year old made her tour-level debut at Roland Garros in the spring and, after qualifying for her first Grand Slam main draw, she beat Panna Udvardy to earn her first tour-level win but, although she continued to successfully qualify at the majors, it was not until Tokyo that Contreras Gomez earned a spot in the main draw at a WTA tournament.

Fernanda Contreras Gomez beat Sofia Kenin in 2 tight sets in Tokyo on Tuesday

© Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

Elsewhere, 6th seed Karolina Pliskova and World No 28 Zhang Shuai needed just 57 minutes each to advance to the 2nd-round, the Czech defeating Bulgarian qualifier Isabella Shinikova, 6-2 6-1, to face Petra Martic from Croatia next, while the Chinese dispatched Japanese wild-card Mai Hontama, 6-0 6-3 and takes on 2nd-seeded Caroline Garcia from France.

Hontama, the World No 180, who reached the 2nd-round at Wimbledon this year, gave the home fans some hope in the second set as she matched Zhang before tiring in the final 3 games.

Pliskova, a former World No 1, was the champion in Tokyo 4 years ago, and had little trouble against 214th-ranked Shinikova, dominating the Bulgarian, who had to qualify to make it into the main draw.

“I missed the beginning of the season because I broke my arm, so I had a slower start to the season, but I feel like in the summer in America I was playing really good matches,” Pliskova said. “I reached the quarter-finals in the U.S. Open, so I think I’m in good shape.”

All matches on Tuesday were played under a closed roof as the tail-end of Typhoon Nanmadol passed over Tokyo.

Karolina Pliskova had little trouble dispatching Isabella Shinikova in Tokyo

© Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images



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