Osaka fends off Zheng in San Jose opener; Rogers ousts Andreescu

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Naomi Osaka made a successful return to the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, defeating No. 51 Zheng Qinwen 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in the first round. Osaka will face either Coco in the second round Gauff or Anhelina Kalinina.

Playing their first tournament since a first-round defeat at Roland Garros, Osaka looked back on San Jose’s fast hard courts. Given Zheng’s powerful and deep groundstrokes, the match was a first-strike tennis clinic as the two traded power for power from the baseline. A break decided each of the first two sets before Osaka dialed in to run away with the final set.

Osaka’s win set a four-game losing streak at the Bay Area tournament. Her last win came on her debut on the Hologic WTA Tour when the tournament was held at Stanford University in 2014.

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Osaka’s serve fired: After suffering an Achilles tendon injury during the clay-court season, there were questions about Osaka’s fitness ahead of the tournament. Osaka assured reporters that she felt fit and healthy and proved it with her strong physical performance. Behind the clutch serve, Osaka saved all three break points she faced in the opening set. After breaking Zheng 2-1, Osaka held at love perfectly to win the opener after 45 minutes.

turning point: The second set remained a close affair due to Zheng’s continued involvement in her power play. The 19-year-old finally broke the Osaka serve and led 5-3. At the breakpoint, Zheng executed a return that slid off the baseline, but Osaka chose to stop play and challenge the line call. The ball was shown and Zheng coolly finished the set with a love hold to force a deciding set.

Osaka quickly put the second set behind them and cleaned up their game. After making 16 unforced errors in the opening two sets, Osaka hit just six in the final frame. In contrast, Zheng hit just six unforced errors to win the second set, but her consistency let her down in the third, hitting 13 unforced errors.

Statistics of the game: Osaka ended with 26 winners to 23 unforced errors with 11 aces. Zheng hit 23 winners with 30 unforced errors and went 1-in-8 on her break point chances.

Day 2 highlights: Roger D. Andréescu | Kudermetova d. Georgi

Earlier in the day, No.45 Shelby Rogers defeated Bianca Andreescu, 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the second round. The American next meets top seed Maria Sakkari.

Rogers played a clean and focused match to get past Andreescu, who was struggling with a lower back problem.

In the longest game of the day, No. 19 Veronika Kudermetova withstood Italy’s Camila Giorrgi’s powerful barrage to win 7-6(2) 4-6 7-5 in 2 hours and 54 minutes.

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