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May 8, 2024 6:57 pm

Naomi Osaka knocks off Clara Burel in first round at Rome

naomi osaka

Naomi Osaka made her return to Rome a winning one by sailing to a 7-6 (2), 6-1 victory over Clara Burel in Wednesday’s first-round match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Osaka served eight aces and had a 27-10 advantage in winners while dispatching the Frenchwoman in 84 minutes.

“Just being able to hang in there and eventually close it on my terms is something that I’m very proud of myself for,” Osaka said.

Former world No. 1 Osaka will play 19th-seeded Marta Kostyuk in the second round. The Ukrainian had a first-round bye.

Osaka led 5-3 in the first set but some hitting miscues allowed Burel to force a tiebreaker. Osaka dominated the tiebreaker to claim the set.

“I was just telling myself, like, my forehand’s one of my biggest weapons, and I shouldn’t be too discouraged,” Osaka said. “I knew the shots that I was going for that I missed were good-intentioned.

“I was just telling myself that was probably a result of nerves and I just have to keep going for my shots and, eventually or hopefully, they start going in.”

With Burel ranked 45th in the world, it marked Osaka’s first Top 50 win on clay since beating Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the second round of the 2019 French Open.

In other first-round matches on a rainy day in Rome, Bernarda Pera produced a 7-6 (6), 6-3 victory over Caroline Dolehide in an All-American affair. Pera saved 8 of 9 break points.

“I started off a little slow but Caroline is a dangerous opponent and she took the chances early on the match,” Pera said on Tennis Channel. “I was able to hit more balls in at the end of the first set and the second set. So I’m really happy with the performance today and the win.”

Pera faces top-seeded Iga Swiatek of Poland in the second round.

Sofia Kenin advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti, while the Czech Republic’s Brenda Fruhvirtova outlasted Taylor Townsend 3-6, 6-2, 6-0.

Lesia Tsurenko of the Ukraine knocked off Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (5), Poland’s Magda Linette was a 6-3, 6-2 winner over China’s Zhu Lin, and Russian Anna Blinkova beat France’s Diane Parry 6-2, 6-3.

Germany’s Tatjana Maria was a 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-2 winner over Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic. Russia’s Elina Avanesyan rallied for a 6-7 (3), 6-0, 7-5 victory over Spain’s Cristina Bucsa, and Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia 6-2, 7-6 (6).

Also, Egypt’s Mayar Sherif cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Croatia’s Petra Martic, and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic registered a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Italy’s Nuria Brancaccio.

–Field Level Media

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