Naomi Osaka’s struggles on clay continue; Petra Kvitova and Maria Sakkari also out of Italian Open
It will no doubt be back to the clay-court drawing board for Naomi Osaka after the world No 2 fell at the first hurdle at the Italian Open while she was joined on the casualty list by Petra Kvitova and Maria Sakkari.
After losing in the second round of the Madrid Open, Osaka admitted that she was still not comfortable on the red dirt but was hoping for an extended run in Rome.
However, she made another early exit as she lost in the second round against Jessica Pegula, going down 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 against the American.
Her remarkable 2021 continues 💪
— wta (@WTA) May 12, 2021
The four-time Grand Slam winner started well enough as she raced into a 3-0 lead after an early break, but Pegula broke back in game five and then dominated the tie-breaker.
After losing her serve in game four of the second set, Osaka looked set for a comeback after breaking back in game five, but the American won the final three games to take the match.
Pegula will face Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova for a place in the quarter-final after the world No 33 advanced when 13th seed Jennifer Brady withdrew.
Seventh seed Petra Kvitova also crashed out as the two-time Wimbledon winner suffered a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 defeat at the hands of Vera Zvonareva while 17th seed Maria Sakkar was also a casualty.
The Greek went down 6-1, 1-6, 6-1 to rising star Coco Gauff and up next for the American is newly-crowned Madrid Open champion Aryna Sabalenka.
The world no 4 continued her winning run with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo.
There were also wins for world No 1 Ashleigh Barty, fifth seed Elina Svitolina and 12th seed Garbine Muguruza.
Former Roland Garros champion Barty was a comfortable 6-4, 6-1 winner over Yaroslava Shvedova, Svitolina overcame a poor start to beat Amanda Anisimova 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 while Muguruza beat Bernarda Pera 2-6, 6-0, 7-5.
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