Osaka opens with victory in Madrid

Antonio Arenas Mutua News

Naomi Osaka is now in the second round of the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open, although it was not plain sailing for the world number one, who found a determined Dominika Cibulkova on the opposite side of the net. The match ended with a thrilling second-set tiebreak that went the way of the Japanese player (6-2, 7-6 [6]). The two players entertained the public for almost two hours in the Manolo Santana Stadium on Sunday.

Osaka comfortably dominated the first set, but came up against far more resistance in the second. Cibulkova, number 33 in the WTA ranking, had some very good chances to level the tie, and even took a two-game lead at one point. However, the world’s best reacted just in time to make the tiebreak hers. This is the first time she has reached the second round in Madrid.

Elina Svitolina, for her part, suffered one of the upsets of the tournament by bowing out to Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 7-6 (6). The French world number 69 showed plenty of grit to produce victory in Stadium 3 against the number 6, with a tie-break in the deciding set.

Despite her resistance, the Ukrainian struggled to get into the match. She improved in the second set, in which she made a good case for a third, but Parmentier made better use of her chances to break, cementing a win against the odds despite having only won 52% of the points compared to her opponent’s 48%.

Another of the matches of the day was provided by Karolina Pliskova and Dayana Yastremska and lasted 2 hours and 17 minutes. The Ukrainian world number 38, at just 18 years of age, pushed the world number 5 to the limit; the Arantxa Sánchez Vicario Stadium witnessed three stunning sets in which the Czech player ended up victorious after a determined performance (5-7, 7-6 [5], 6-3). Pliskova had to come back to keep alive her chances of another good finish in Madrid (semi-finalist last year). She has also increased her record as the player who has played the most three-set matches so far in 2019.

Simona Halep had less difficulty in getting past Margarita Gasparyan in the Manolo Santana Stadium (6-0, 6-4). The world number 3 and two-time champion in the Spanish capital, stormed through the first set, but had to work a little harder in the second, when the world number 65 enjoyed some break points and looked far more comfortable than a few minutes earlier (49% of points won compared to Halep’s 51). However, despite being her first clay tournament of the season, the Romanian’s experience was enough to see off the Russian.

In Stadium 3, Sloane Stephens also had to find something to finish off Polona Hercog (6-2, 7-6[4]). The world number 8 had a relatively easy first set, but it was a different story in the second, where she had to dispute yet another tiebreak on a day when the favourites had to work hard for their results. After failing to break the US player in the first set, the world number 71 managed to do so twice in the second. Even so, the favourite came through in the sudden-death decider.

Angelique Kerber enjoyed a smoother ride than most of her top-8 peers on Sunday. The world number 4 delivered on her status as favourite against Lesia Tsurenko (no. 26) in the Manolo Santana Stadium in just one hour and 12 minutes (6-3, 6-2). The German had won her only previous clash with the Ukrainian on clay and gave her opponent little chance to add to her good results against top-5 players in the last year.

The bittersweet note of the day in the WTA competition came from Caroline Wozniacki in the Arantxa Sánchez Vicario Stadium. The world number 12, 2009’s runner-up, had to withdraw from her match against Alizé Cornet when she was losing the first set 3-0. Only 18 minutes had been played when a back problem ended the Dane’s participation in this Mutua Madrid Open. Her French opponent, the world’s number 54, therefore progressed to the second round.

WOMEN’S SINGLES – FIRST ROUND

[1] N. Osaka (JPN) d D. Cibulkova (SVK) 62 76(6)
[3] S. Halep (ROU) d [Q] M. Gasparyan (RUS) 60 64
[4] A. Kerber (GER) d L. Tsurenko (UKR) 63 62
[5] Ka. Pliskova (CZE) d D. Yastremska (UKR) 57 76(5) 63
P. Parmentier (FRA) d [6] E. Svitolina (UKR) 64 76(6)
[8] S. Stephens (USA) d [Q] P. Hercog (SLO) 62 76(4)
A. Cornet (FRA) d [11] C. Wozniacki (DEN) 30 Retired
[WC] S. Cirstea (ROU) d [13] M. Keys (USA) 36 64 61
D. Vekic (CRO) d [15] Q. Wang (CHN) 75 64
V. Kuzmova (SVK) d [16] J. Goerges (GER) 75 64
[WC] S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP) d [WC] L. Arruabarrena (ESP) 64 36 61
[Q] A. Schmiedlova (SVK) d E. Mertens (BEL) 75 76(5)
B. Bencic (SUI) d A. Van Uytvanck (BEL) 64 63
[Q] K. Kozlova (UKR) d S. Zhang (CHN) 63 62
J. Konta (GBR) d A. Riske (USA) 64 61
C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) d M. Sakkari (GRE) 63 63
D. Collins (USA) d [Q] V. Zvonareva (RUS) 61 64
S. Zheng (CHN) d Y. Wang (CHN) 75 76(3)
[Q] Kr. Pliskova (CZE) d [Q] M. Kostyuk (UKR) 36 63 62
P. Martic (CRO) d G. Muguruza (ESP) 75 76(2)
M. Buzarnescu (ROU) d A. Tomljanovic (AUS) 63 62
[Q] K. Mladenovic (FRA) d B. Strycova (CZE) 63 61