Naomi Osaka claimed an incredible victory in a tricky opening-round encounter at the 2018 Internazionali BNL D’Italia, ousting former world number one Victoria Azarenka in stunning fashion with a commanding 6-0, 6-3 scoreline.
The Japanese fired 20 winners and unforced errors while Azarenka was simply too erratic, committing 19 errors to just a mere 12 winners. Whereas, the Belarusian was exceptionally disappointing on her serve, defending just 44 percent of points behind her first serve.
Osaka whitewashes the former world number one in 26 minutes
The Japanese made the right decision to start the match serving as she fired multiple winners consecutively for the comfortable service hold. It seemed like an extremely one-sided performance with Osaka overpowering Azarenka, who seemed powerless and helpless against the power of the world number 21. A costly backhand drive-volley error then saw the former world number one gifting the first breakthrough to Osaka, who drew first blood with some inspired play.
Putting up a clinical aggressive performance, the Indian Wells champion comfortably consolidated the break for a commanding 3-0 lead within a blink of an eye. Unable to find her range on the court, Azarenka was spraying free errors while Osaka took full advantage, grabbing the double-break advantage as the Belarusian struggled to play her top tennis.
Osaka’s forehand was a huge weapon and Azarenka gifted her more opportunities than ever to utilize the vicious weapon. Despite some tough resistance by the two-time Major champion when serving to stay in the set at 0-5 down, she was unable to spare herself from the bagel as the determined Osaka closed out any loopholes, taking the opening set 6-0 after just 26 minutes.
Osaka fights back from early deficit, ousts Azarenka in straight sets
Being more solid during the baseline rallies and taking the initiative to get on the offense quickly, Azarenka made a stunning start to the second set by grabbing a break in the opening game to get on board for the first time in the day. She then looked in total control of the set, firing an ace to confirm her lead while having all the momentum running in her.
However, a game-changing routine service hold for Osaka totally killed Azarenka’s short-lived rhythm as she soon went on a five-game rout. The Belarusian’s crucial errors on the backhand wing proved costly, especially the one on break point as the Japanese youngster came out of nowhere to level the scores.
Osaka had to fend off a nervy break point in the fifth game before closing it out with a clean one-two punch, while Azarenka attempted to go for the lines more often, but it backfired as it resulted in countless unforced errors. Lessening the deficit to just two games, all eyes were on Osaka as she was forced to serve out the match at 5-3. Nerves finally got to the world number 21 but a string of impressive points — a lob winner and an ace — saw Osaka fighting back to successfully claim the win within just 73 minutes of play.