BIRMINGHAM, England - Lucie Safarova booked her quarterfinal spot at the Aegon Classic Birmingham in commanding fashion, taking down Naomi Osaka in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4.
“Naomi is a great player and she is serving so strong, so I knew I had to be really ready today,” Safarova said in her on-court interview.
“I just waited for my opportunities when she gives me second serves. I played really well today, I’m very happy with my game.”
The former French Open finalist put together a commanding head start early on against Osaka, breaking the Japanese player twice for a daunting 4-0 lead. Although Osaka was able to get on the scoreboard, she couldn’t pressure the Safarova serve as the Czech marched ahead to take the opening set.
It was a narrower affair in the second, with Safarova and Osaka staying neck and neck on serve throughout most of the set. But once again it was Safarova who was able to earn the decisive break, diffusing Osaka’s powerful groundstrokes and drawing out unforced errors.
The Czech was able to flip the script on the big-hitting Japanese player, hitting 22 winners and 14 unforced errors against Osaka’s 13 winners and 21 errors, and Safarova took the match – and a spot into the quarterfinals – after a comfortable hour and twelve minutes.
“In the second set it was very close, all the games were very close,” she explained afterwards. “We both showed good tennis.
“I was a little bit sore [from yesterday's match against Cibulkova] but when you’re winning, the excitement is there. I was excited to come out here and play today.”
The victory puts Safarova through to her fifth WTA quarterfinal of 2017, and her second straight on grass after a run to the semifinals last week in Nottingham.
She’ll face another powerful youngster in the next round, as she’s set to take on Daria Gavrilova after the Aussie defeated Katerina Siniakova 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 earlier in the day.