WTA Citi Open: Naomi Osaka kicks off the tournament with win over Bernarda Pera

The third seed in Washington DC wins her opener over the American.

WTA Citi Open: Naomi Osaka kicks off the tournament with win over Bernarda Pera
Naomi Osaka fist pumps after seeing her way through to the second round (Noel Alberto/VAVEL USA)
Naomi Osaka
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Bernarda Pera

Naomi Osaka opened up her Citi Open campaign against American Bernarda Pera. The Japanese number one won 6-2, 7-6(4) after overcoming a rain delay and going down a break twice in the second set.  

Osaka Cruises In Opening Set

Early on, it was evident that Pera would be in trouble on serve as she was struggling to get first serves in. The Japanese number one had an opening at 15-30 in Pera’s first service game, but a let on a point in which she had control in forced the point to be replayed. The American was able to escape the game unscathed but playing from behind in her own service games was a trend throughout the whole first set.

Another chance for Osaka to get an opening at 15-30 in the fourth game. However, the 20-year-old missed her chance to go up 15-40 and grabbed her taped lower right leg in the process. She was eventually able to break through in the sixth game after a backhand winner and broke once again with another backhand winner to take the opening set 6-2.

Bernard Pera struggled for most of the day to find her rhythm (Noel Alberto/VAVEL USA)
Bernard Pera struggled for most of the day to find her rhythm (Noel Alberto/VAVEL USA)

Rain And Breaks Pose No Problem For Osaka

For the first time in the match, Pera found herself without any trouble holding serve. She was not behind in any of her first couple of service games and began to get into the Osaka service game, something she was unable to do before. The 23-year-old found an opening at 15-30, but Osaka responded with a backhand winner to level it at 30-all. 

Pera used her lefty forehand to force the Japanese out wide on break point as Osaka dumped a shot into the net. A 20-minute rain delay would ensue during Pera's service game where she went from 40-0 up to 40-30 but still managed to keep her break lead despite the small delay. 

Osaka was able to break to level the set at four apiece and followed that up with a hold of her own to force Pera to serve to stay in the match. The 23-year-old held with no problems as Osaka looked to continue to apply the pressure with a hold. She was unable to do that with a crucial miss on a short ball at 30-all to allow a break point chance to come Pera's way and eventually was broken once again.

Osaka's backhand played a key role in today's match (Noel Alberto/VAVEL USA)
Osaka's backhand played a key role in today's match (Noel Alberto/VAVEL USA)

6-5 up, Pera could not get going. She lost three straight points with the last coming off a net cord to give Osaka three break back points. The Japanese number one converted at her second time of asking to force a tiebreak. 

Pera's serving woes continued to start the tiebreak, giving a mini-break to Osaka right away. The two continued to hold serve until it was the Japanese who dropped serve to give Pera a chance to take the lead on her serve. It was to no avail though as Osaka prevailed on Pera's final two serves of the set to win 7-4 in the tiebreak and will now face the winner of the Magda Linette and Olivia Rogowska match.