Osaka battles past Pegula in Beijing opener

Updated September 30, 2019

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Japan’s two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka produced scowls rather than smiles at the China Open in Beijing on Sunday despite reaching the second round with a straight-sets win. — AFP/File
Japan’s two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka produced scowls rather than smiles at the China Open in Beijing on Sunday despite reaching the second round with a straight-sets win. — AFP/File

BEIJING: Japan’s two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka produced scowls rather than smiles at the China Open in Beijing on Sunday despite reaching the second round with a straight-sets win.

Fourth seed Osaka, fresh off her title triumph at the Pan Pacific Open, struck 26 winners win a 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) win over American Jessica Pegula, only to complain about the way she had played.

“I just felt like this match, I was kind of living in the moment every point. I wasn’t really thinking too much in the future, too much in the past,” said Osaka.

Osaka will next play qualifier Andrea Petkovic of Germany, who beat Jil Teichmann 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 to advance.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep showed no signs of the lower back injury that forced her out of Wuhan Open last week as she raced past qualifier Rebecca Peterson 6-1, 6-1.

The Romanian has had ongoing problems with her back and, despite having little trouble swatting aside the Swede, admitted she was unable to play her normal game.

“I’m not 100 percent recovered, I still feel pain,” said the sixth seed. “Always when you have an injury, it’s a little bit risky. But I accepted it, I took the risk.”

Third seed Elina Svitolina recovered from a sloppy start to beat last year’s Beijing runner-up, Latvian Anastasija Sevastova, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-2.

Former world number one Venus Williams came back from a break down in the final set to overcome Barbora Strycova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, extending her winning record against the Czech to five matches, while American Sloane Stephens beat Magda Linette 7-5, 6-3.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2019