BERLIN -- World No.8 Zheng Qinwen hit a season-high 23 aces en route to a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over Naomi Osaka in the first round of the ecotrans Ladies Open.

Zheng's 23 aces are the most hit in a Hologic WTA Tour tour-level match this season, besting the previous mark of 19 by Karolina Pliskova against Anna Kalinskaya in Doha. It is the most in any match since Rebecca Marino hit 24 against Caroline Garcia in 2022 Guadalajara.

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"All the last year, didn't matter if I won or lost, I never felt the same again like I was serving in 2022," Zheng said. "Today I felt that feeling is back."

Since 2008, Zheng is the seventh player to hit 23 or more aces in a match, joining Kristyna Pliskova (four times), Serena Williams (twice), Karolina Pliskova, Sabine Lisicki, Caroline Garcia and Rebecca Marino. It is the most aces given up by Osaka in her career, eclipsing the 16 struck by Karolina Pliskova in Brisbane this year.

"I was trying to improve the consistency of the serve because I know it's so important, especially on grass courts. One break and you win the set, one break and you lose the set. That's precisely what happened today."

The victory is Zheng's second of the season over Osaka after beating the former No.1 on clay last month at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. Zheng improved her head-to-head record to 2-1. 

"I've played against her already on all different surfaces, hard, clay, and now grass court," Zheng said on court. "It's a tough opponent in the first round. I'm happy that I gave my best today and to get my first win at this tournament in three years.

"The last two years when I came on grass, I was a little bit lost."

Zheng defeats Osaka for second time in 2024, advances to Berlin Round 2

Zheng put on a serving masterclass in her first grass-court match of the season, losing just six points behind her first serve for the match. The 21-year-old hit seven aces and did not let Osaka see a break point in the 41-minute opening set. Zheng secured the sole break of serve after Osaka struck her second double fault of the set to give Zheng a break point, which she took with a crushing second-serve return.

Osaka locked in immediately in the second set. After striking 13 unforced errors in the first set, Osaka kept a much cleaner sheet in the second, hitting only seven. She served at 78 percent to turn the tables on Zheng, who did not see a break-point chance. 

As she rolled through her service games, Osaka's confidence grew. She broke the Zheng's serve for the first time in the match to lead 4-2 and closed out the set to move within a set of securing her first Top 10 win of the year.


But on this day, Zheng's serve proved nearly impossible to break. Osaka had a game point to hold to 2-2 but a deep return from Zheng kept her in the game. Two points later, Osaka put a backhand into the net to give Zheng the break, which she quickly consolidated to an unassailable 4-1 lead. 

Zheng closed out the match by serving herself out of a 0-30 hole and saving one break point to seal the win. Zheng finished the match with 41 winners, including her 23 aces, and 29 unforced errors. Osaka hit 20 winners, including five aces, and 30 unforced errors. 

"I don't have too many wins on grass because last year I lost in the first round at all three tournaments," Zheng said. "Also last year was really tricky because I changed my whole team after the French Open. So everything was a mess for me.

"Now everything is back on track for me. Ok, I lost in the third round of the French Open but that can happen. I fought until the end. Now the grass is coming. I love to play on grass courts. People are so classic." 

Zheng will face Katerina Siniakova in the second round. The Czech came through qualifying to defeat Emma Navarro 6-4, 6-3 in the first round.