Former champion Naomi Osaka advances at Indian Wells

League: Tennis

Posted on: 08 Mar, 2024 at 07:12 AM

Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Former World No. 1 Naomi Osaka of Japan had a strong outing Thursday, defeating Italian qualifier Sara Errani 6-3, 6-1 in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.

Osaka, the 2018 champion, improved her match record to 4-4 in her comeback from maternity leave after the birth of her daughter, Shai, last July.

Unseeded in her fifth tournament this year, Osaka is ranked No. 287 after advancing to the quarterfinals last month in Doha, Qatar. Errani is No. 65, a former No. 5 in the world who played tougher than the score indicates.

Errani led 2-1 in the first set and was serving at 3-2 to within a point of going up 4-2, but Osaka used a big forehand winner after running Errani from corner to corner.

Osaka lost just one game the rest of the match, leveling the first set at 3-3 and saving two break points to hold serve. She broke Errani for a 5-3 advantage before closing out the set.

Having a big advantage in aces (9-0) but also more double faults (9-2), Osaka saved 8 of 10 break points and converted 6 of 13 opportunities in the 69-minute match.

It was her 50th WTA 1000 win on hard court.

Next up for Osaka is No. 15 Luidmila Samsonova of Italy in the second round on Saturday.

Japanese qualifier Nao Hibino came back for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 win over 43-year-old Venus Williams.

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, like Williams a former world No. 1 player, beat China's Zhu Lin 7-6 (6), 6-1 in a match that started Tuesday before it was suspended due to rain.

Wozniacki said on Tennis Channel, "Yesterday was such a grind. We started off in pretty perfect weather: little sunny, slight wind, then all of a sudden, it was so windy, impossible to put three balls in the court. Then the rain delay, we came back and forth a couple of times, then today, I was like, 'No more messing around, gotta get this done.'"

In other action, Great Britain's Emma Raducanu, the 2021 U.S. Open champion, saved 8 of 10 break-point opportunities and converted 6 of 16 in defeating Spanish qualifier Rebeka Masarova 6-2, 6-3.

Argentina's Nadia Podoroska rallied to oust American teenager Ashlyn Krueger 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

In an All-American battle, Hailey Baptiste outlasted Robin Montgomery 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. Baptiste converted 5 of 10 break-point opportunities and won 82.9 percent (34 of 41) of her first-serve points.

Other winners Thursday included the Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova and Katerina Siniakova, France's Clara Burel and Oceane Dodin, Italy's Lucia Bronzetti, Russia's Anna Blinkova, China's Xinyu Wang, Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko.

The U.S. trio of Danielle Collins, Caroline Dolehide and Sloane Stephens also advanced. Collins completed a rain-delayed 7-6 (3), 7-6 (6) win over Russia's Erika Andreeva. Dolehide blitzed Spain's Cristina Bucsa 6-2, 6-0, and Stephens downed Egypt's Mayar Sherif 7-5, 6-3.

Numerous other scheduled matches, including two that were in progress, were postponed until Friday.

--Field Level Media