PARIS, France – No.21 seed Naomi Osaka has reached the third round of the French Open for the second time after defeating Zarina Diyas, 6-4, 7-5.
The 20-year-old from Japan created nine break chances during an opening set in which she held the upper hand, then dug in to take a tight second.
"I tend to be better in Grand Slams. I think I just focus more on the tennis part rather than making up excuses of what the surface is and how my play style isn't suited for it or whatever," Osaka told reporters after the match.
"For here, my main priority is always to do really well and play great matches, and I think that that sort of gets rid of the fact that it's a clay court."
The match started with Osaka rattling through her opening service game in little over a minute, yet that was to prove an exception as much of the first set was close fought.
She was, however, the player always with her nose in front. A lengthy second game saw her claim an early break with a fine passing shot, though it was her fourth opportunity after six deuces.
After Diyas finally got on the board to make it 3-1, she was handed a lifeline in the set by her opponent, who made two unforced errors on volleys to present the break back to the Kazakhstani player.
But Osaka persisted with her aggressive approach, salvaging a dangerous situation at 4-4, 30-30 with deft touch at the net, then forcing a set point in the next game, which she claimed as her opponent went long with a second serve.
The second set started in the same manner as the first, with Osaka powering through her opening service game. But whereas the opener had provided opportunities for both players, in the second there were no hints of a breakthrough until the closing stages as both players struggled to gain any kind of rhythm on return.
Diyas did hold a 15-30 lead in the 11th game, but the danger was quelled by a couple of commanding winners from the other side of the net.
The kind of power and accuracy she had shown in a clutch situation moments earlier initially deserted Osaka in the following game as she fired tamely into the net on her first match point, but given a second chance she did not falter.
Next up for the Japanese is a meeting with 13th seed Madison Keys, who eased past compatriot and qualifier Caroline Dolehide after a tight first set, 6-4, 6-1.
"I've played Madison -- the last time I played her was last year in Indian Wells," Osaka said. "Of course, I know how great of a player she is. I have never beaten her, so there's that."