NOTTINGHAM, Great Britain - Naomi Osaka’s first match on grass was trickier than she might have hoped for, but the big hitting Japanese player notched her first win on the new surface to start her campaign at the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham.
The No.3 seed Osaka had to come back from a set down against an inspired Sachia Vickery, but completed the turnaround in emphatic style, winning 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 in just under two hours on court.
Osaka seemed to struggle with her serve in the early stages of the match, giving Vickery plenty of looks at second serves to pounce on. Osaka has never counted grass as one of her favorite surface - she fell in the first round here last year and has notched back-to-back wins on grass only once in her career - and as a result she needed a few games to find her rhythm.
Despite dropping the opening set, Osaka came back strong, finding her range to break Vickery for a 2-0 lead, then reel off the last four games in a row to seal the second set. The third set was one way traffic - Osaka once against went on a four-game tear to bring up a double break lead, and she dodged three break chances to close out the match after an hour and 52 minutes.
Up next, Osaka will take on Denisa Allertova in the second round as she seeks her first tour-level quarterfinal on grass. Allertova needed just two sets to see of Kristie Ahn, 6-3, 6-1 in less than an hour.
Joining them in the second round, No.118-ranked Dalila Jakupovic put together a strong performance to knock out a player ranked 69 spots higher, upsetting No.8 seed Camila Giorgi 7-6(4), 6-2. Magdalena Frech triumphed in a three set battle against Zheng Saisai, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
More to follow...