ROME, Italy - Laura Siegemund continued her sparkling clay-court form at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia today with a straightforward 6-2, 6-4 first round win over an error-strewn Naomi Osaka.
Perhaps surprisingly, it was the first appearance in the Rome main draw for either player, and it was the experienced German who was quicker to adjust to her new surroundings.
Her 19-year-old opponent was forced to sit out of last week's Mutua Madrid Open with a ruptured abdominal muscle, and her rust was evident. Though Osaka gave the crowd glimpses of her phenomenal power, serving back-to-back aces in her opening service game, she was unable to find any sort of consistency with her best shots and won just 19% of her second service points.
Time and again, Siegemund entangled the Japanese player with sneaky drop shots and changes of direction; impressively, she also won each of the match's five deuce games, shutting down any putative turning points for Osaka.
If the Stüttgart champion had a weak point, it was in the five double faults she served; but her teenage rival couldn't take advantage, breaking Siegemund just once and concluding the match on another return error.
Osaka now trails the German 0-2 in their head-to-head, though she went one game better today than she did in her 2-6, 3-6 loss to Siegemund in Indian Wells qualifying in 2016.
Elsewhere, Barbora Strycova progressed after Daria Kasatkina was forced to retire from their match on Pietrangeli, with the Czech leading 6-4, 3-4.
The Russian received a medical time-out after a heavy fall in the second set, and was unable to continue.