Naomi Osaka Continues Hot Streak on Day One of Main Draw Play
By: Nick McCarvel
Naomi Osaka is learning to play with a target on her back. And she’s learning fast.
Monday afternoon the 20 year old from Japan continued the hot form that won her a first WTA title in Indian Wells two weeks ago and also earned her a victory over Serena Williams in the last 10 days, coming through her first round match at the Volvo Car Open in straight sets.
The hard-hitting Osaka beat American Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-4 to earn a second round meeting with Germany’s Laura Siegemund, a semifinalist here just a year ago.
Osaka, the No. 10 seed, was the top-rated winner on a day brimming with world-class tennis in Charleston.
Recent form has brought about new expectations for American teenager Caroline Dolehide, as well, the Illinois native making the third round in Indian Wells last month and qualifying for the main draw here with two triumphs over the weekend.
She needed three sets to beat veteran Johanna Larsson 5-7, 6-0, 6-4 on Althea Gibson Clubcourt, and next meets No. 8 seed Anastasija Sevastova in the second round.
Other winners Monday: No. 14 seed Alize Cornet of France; No. 12 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands; Americans Bernarda Pera and Christina Mchale; No. 11 Daria Gavrilova; and Siegemund, who is coming back from a knee injury that has sidelined her for nearly a year.
Former champion here Andrea Petkovic played a close two-setter on Volvo Car Stadium, but eventually fell to American Varvara Lepchenko in two sets, 6-4, 7-5.
Another fan favorite, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, also lost, beaten by Aleksandra Krunic.
The tournament got news that Sloane Stephens, the No. 4 seed, was pulling out due to exhaustion after winning the title in Miami on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Hungary’s Fanny Stollar, 19, re-captured the magic she found last year here as a qualifier. She qualified again this year and won her first round match Monday. Her reward? A battle against No. 6 seed Johanna Konta.
Tuesday will wrap up first-round play, while several second-round matches will get underway.