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Apr 24, 2024 6:23 pm

Naomi Osaka finds way to win on clay, defeating Greet Minnen in Madrid

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka recorded her first clay-court victory in exactly two years on Wednesday when the former World No. 1 topped lucky loser Greet Minnen 6-4, 6-1 at the Mutua Madrid Open in Spain.

Japan’s Osaka last won on clay at Madrid in 2022, when she defeated Russia’s Anastasia Potapova in the first round.

“There’s definitely beauty to it, and I’m taking a lot of inspiration from people who do well on it,” Osaka said. “I’m not expecting to be like Iga (Swiatek, the current No. 1), but I just want to do the best with what I have.”

Osaka, who returned from maternity leave in January, lost to Martina Trevisan in her start to clay season last week at the Rouen event.

She got the better of Belgium’s Minnen by winning 76.7 percent (23 of 30) of first serve points, saving the lone break point and converting 3 of 10 opportunities.

“Overall, just really happy,” Osaka said. “I do have a tendency to get down on myself, especially when I feel I should’ve converted (break points) or done better, so I was definitely telling myself to keep my head up and, hopefully, I’d have more opportunities.

“I want to adapt and I’m trying to adapt, but there are things that work for me and have gotten me to where I am, so I don’t want to start slicing and dicing. There’s a basis to my game and I want to stick to that, but also respect the court. It’s a work in progress for me, but I’m watching a lot more matches on clay, I’m trying to do my homework as best as I can.”

In other matches, qualifier Maria Lourdes Carle of Argentina notched the first WTA 1000-level win of her career by dispatching 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu of Great Britain 6-2, 6-2.

Carle, ranked No. 82 in the world, took the spot of Raducanu’s initial opponent, former No. 1 Czech Karolina Pliskova, who withdrew during the qualifying rounds. Carle broke the serve of Raducanu, ranked No. 221, six times in seven opportunities in winning in one hour and 25 minutes.

Italian qualifier Sara Errani defeated former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 in a battle that lasted two hours and 48 minutes. Errani converted 8 of 18 (44.4 percent) of break-point opportunities and prevailed despite Wozniacki going 8 of 11 (72.7 percent).

Winners of three-set matches Wednesday were Spain’s Jessica Bouzas Maneiro, Russia’s Mirra Andreeva, Americans Sloane Stephens and Lauren Davis, Serbia’s Olga Danilovic, Poland’s Magda Linette, China’s Xinyu Wang, the Czech Republic’s Sara Bejlek and Colombia’s Emiliana Arango.

Straight-set winners were Andorra’s Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva, Croatia’s Donna Vekic, Spain’s Cristina Bucsa and Sara Sorribes Tormo, Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva, Romania’s Jaqueline Cristian, Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti, Australia’s Daria Saville, and the United States’ Shelby Rogers, Caroline Dolehide, Ashlyn Krueger and Robin Montgomery.

–Field Level Media

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