It was a battle of generations. Veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who played her first match on the clay of Roland Garros in 1999, fell 6-3, 6-3 in the second round to eighteen-year-old Naomi Osaka, who is maker her debut at the Parisian Slam.
Important Hold Gives Osaka The First Set
The first game of the match saw Osaka immediately gain two break points, converting the second one to gain an immediate advantage in the match. Both players held their following service games, making the score 3-1 with Osaka leading.
From then on, it became a game of breaks, in which neither player managed to hold their serve. Osaka got going first, breaking to love on the Croatian's serve to take a significant advantage of 4-1. She failed to hold her next game, falling to Lucic-Baroni’s second break point. A third break was claimed by the Japanese, giving her the chance to serve for the match. Despite failing to serve out the set, being broken to love, she finally closed it out with her fourth break of the set, when the Croatian gifted her the set by hitting a double-fault on the first set point, ending the set 6-3.
A Break Becomes Decisive On The Second Set
Things became more solid on serve for Osaka at the beginning of the second set. She easily held her serve annd immediately got a break in the second game. Another comfortable hold and another break let her storm to a 4-0 lead in little more than ten minutes. Lucic-Baroni immediately responded, winning back one of the two breaks right away by converting her first and only break point of the set.
The Croatian gave the Japanese no more chances to break her serve, but it wasn't enough, as Osaka never failed to hold her serve as well. She didn't make the same mistake as the first set, by dropping her serve at the most crucial moment, and she successfully served for the match, closing out the 6-3, 6-3 victory on her first match point, after exactly one hour of play.
Despite hitting more winners (22 to Osaka’s 16), a higher amount of unforced errors, 31 to 12, is what probably cost the Croatian the match, as she couldn’t find any real consistency when serving in both sets.
Osaka To Meet Halep
Osaka started to be noticed last year by winning the WTA Rising Star Invitational, and right after reaching her first WTA Tour final in Huan-Hin.
She made her debut in a Grand Slam main draw at this year’s Australian Open, where she reached the third round as a qualifier, defeating eighteenth seed Elina Svitolina before surrendering to two-time champion Viktoria Azarenka.
Despite a good start at French Open, she hasn’t had a great season on clay, failing to qualify in both Madrid and Stuttgart, and losing in the first round in Charleston. She will face another great challenge soon, as in round three she will meet sixth seed and 2014 finalist Simona Halep, getting the chance to reach her first fourth round in a major with a first career victory over a top-ten opponent.