• Kyodo


Japanese youngster Naomi Osaka had a resounding first round victory at the Japan Women’s Open on Wednesday, dispatching Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 6-0, 6-2 in under an hour.

The 18-year-old world No. 69, who made her Grand Slam debut this year and reached the third round at the Australian, French and U.S. Opens, was exceptional on the backhand side in her straight-sets win. The 126th-ranked Estonian could not live with Osaka’s power and accuracy.

“The last match I played at the U.S. Open against (Madison) Keys, she was hitting very hard and I didn’t really have a chance to be aggressive. So today, no matter what, I tried to force my game,” said Osaka.

Making her third appearance in the tournament, Osaka was on fire from the start of the first set with her precise returns and a Kontaveit double fault seeing her take a break in the opening game.

A strong cross-court forehand secured a second break before she saved a break point with an ace to hold serve. Then a backhand down the line gave her a third break in a perfect opener.

Osaka, who had four aces in the match, began to struggle with her first serve after breaking again to open the second. But she was always on top in rally points, repeatedly chasing the lines for winners to keep Kontaveit at bay.

Her superior play meant she faced just two total break points, and saw them both off.

“I feel I was inconsistent with my serve, said Osaka whose fastest serve topped 190 kph, adding that she needs to work on being relaxed during points.

Osaka lost her match against Keys after being 5-1 up in the final set on Sept. 2, and said the match momentarily crossed her mind when she gave up a game with the score at 5-1 in the second set against the Estonian.

“I was kind of thinking about that from the U.S. Open, but I wasn’t really too worried about it. I wouldn’t let myself lose that (next) game. I was trying to think about getting my first serves (in).”

In other first-round matches, Japanese qualifier Erika Sema was beaten 6-1, 6-0 by Poland’s Magda Linette, while Miyu Kato went out 6-3, 7-6(11-9) against Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson. Third seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan won 6-4, 6-3 against Greek Maria Sakkari.

In second-round matches, American Varvara Lepchenko beat fourth-seeded Swede Johanna Larsson 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, Jana Cepelova of Slovakia defeated South Korean qualifier Jang Su-jeong 6-3, 6-1, while Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic overcame American Louisa Chirico 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7-3).

The doubles event saw Japanese pair Shuko Aoyama and Makoto Ninomiya beat the top-seeded Chinese team of Xu Yifan and Zheng Saisai 6-4, 7-5.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.