Osaka fended off Zheng in San Jose’s opener; Rogers knocked out Andreesco

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Naomi Osaka made a triumphant 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 Coco Gauff in the second round.

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Playing her first tournament since losing in the first round at Roland Garros, Osaka looked back at home on the fast hard courts in San Jose. In the face of Zheng’s powerful and deep strokes, the match was clinical first-strike tennis as the two traded power for power from the baseline. Each of the first two sets was decided by one break before Osaka spun and ran away with the final set.

With the win, Osaka snapped a four-game losing streak at the Bay Area tournament. Her most recent win came on her Hologic WTA Tour debut when the tournament was held at Stanford University in 2014.

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Osaka’s serve was on fire: After suffering an Achilles injury during the clay season, there were questions about Osaka’s fitness coming into the tournament. Osaka assured reporters that she felt fit and healthy and proved it with her strong physical performance. Osaka saved all three break points she faced in the opening set behind her clutch serve. After breaking Zheng for 2-1, Osaka remained perfect in her service games to open after 45 minutes.

Turning point: The second set remained even due to Zheng’s continued commitment to his power game. The 19-year-old finally broke serve in Osaka and led 5-3. On break point, Zheng hit a return that slipped out of the baseline, but Osaka decided to break the game and call for the line. The ball was held and Zheng coolly closed out the set with a love hold to force a decider.

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

“I have a lot of confidence in the third sets,” Osaka said. “I’m not sure if it’s subconscious or not, but I remember thinking it was going to be hard for her to break me. Because I learned a lot from struggling with the last ball in that game, that I broke.”

“I think one thing I have over her is that I have a lot of experience. I’ve definitely played more matches than her, so it will be interesting to see her grow.”

Match Stats: Osaka finished with 26 winners and 23 unforced errors, with 11 aces. Zheng hit 23 match points on 30 unforced errors and went 1-8 on her break chances.

Highlights Day 2: Rogers d. Andreescu | Kudermetová d. Giorgi

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

Rogers played a clean and focused power fight around Andreesco, who was dealing with a lower back problem.

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

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