Thursday, 22 August, 2019

Naomi Osaka into round two at Birmingham's Nature Valley Classic

Watch the Naomi Osaka v Maria Sakkari Live Streaming WTA Birmingham 'I’m not that comfortable with grass': World No. 1 Naomi Osaka weighs her chances at Wimbledon
Shannon Reynolds | 20 June, 2019, 14:14

Two-time major victor Osaka is not particularly strong on grass and it was a tough draw against Sakkari, who has had a good year.

Roger Federer, Naomi Osaka and Maria Sharapova all kicked off their grass-court campaigns with victories in different tournaments on Tuesday.

World No1 Naomi Osaka came through a high-quality opening battle on the grass of Birmingham to beat Maria Sakkari, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, at the Nature Valley Classic.

"I was kind of screaming on the inside during that entire match", Osaka said in her on-court interview. "So, I guess I'm feeling as good as I can". "And I feel every day that I play on grass of course I'm going to learn how to play better, but for now I'm just really happy I was able to win that match".

Osaka's possession of the No. 1 spot is at stake in this tournament, with the recent French Open champion Ashleigh Barty poised to overtake her if she happens to slip up.

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Osaka needs to reach the final in Birmingham to guarantee holding on to top spot in the rankings heading into Wimbledon. "During my entire clay season, it kind of mattered", she replied. I'm enjoying it. And I know that if I play well, then I'll be No 1.

The Japanese triumphed 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 to progress to the second round, where she will meet Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva.

It wasn't all plain sailing for the the 23-year-old, who had seven double faults and was broken in the second set when serving for the match. The world number 33 fought back in the second to take the match to a deciding set.

Newly-crowned French Open champion Barty was due to open her grasscourt singles campaign against Nottingham Open victor Vekic but tournament organisers decided on an early end to proceedings with no let-up in the drizzle.

Elsewhere, former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko stormed into the next round with a 6-0 6-2 demolition of Iga Swiatek while Petra Martic saw off the challenge of Ekaterina Alexandrova with a 6-3 7-5 win.

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