Nature Valley Open Nottingham 2018: Osaka through to second round after comeback against Vickery

Sachia Vickery was knocked out by Naomi Osaka as the Japanese starlet secured her place in the second round.

Nature Valley Open Nottingham 2018: Osaka through to second round after comeback against Vickery
Nature Valley Open Nottingham 2018: Osaka through to second round after comeback against Vickery. (picture: Getty Images / James Williamson - AMA)
Naomi Osaka
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Sachia Vickery

Naomi Osaka, one of the favourites for the title of the Women's Tennis Association's (WTA) tournament in Nottingham, came from a set down to beat Sachia Vickery 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. 

It was a superb response from Osaka after a poor start, something which she has failed to produce in the past. It shows that she may be starting to mature as a player which can only be a good thing for the rest of her career. 

The standout draw in first round 

When the draw was made on Saturday, this was the match that really stood out. Osaka came into this match as the favourite due to the fact that she is ranked as No. 18 in the world at the moment. Despite this impressive ranking, she has still only won one WTA title.  She has featured at this tournament in the past and will view it as a good opportunity to build some momentum before Wimbledon, which starts on 2 July.  

In comparison, Vickery is currently ranked No. 77 in the world which is almost as high as she has ever been in her career. The highlights of Vickery's career so far are without doubt the two singles titles on the WTA's lower-level International Tennis Federation. Vickery may have been frustrated with Saturday's draw as she was probably not expecting to come up against a player such as Osaka so early on in the competition. 

Vickery makes a storming start 

There was a large crowd in attendance on Centre Court for the first main draw match of the tournament. Osaka came into this encounter as the favourite to progress into the second round due to her superior ranking but it was Vickery who made the brighter start. She claimed an early break before racing into a 3-1 lead and subsequently put Osaka on the back foot from the off. 

However, Osaka was able to bounce back by breaking in the fifth game after a huge effort before holding easily in the following game to level the game up at 3-3. Vickery did not let this comeback dishearten her as she claimed the seventh game, despite the fact that Osaka had plenty of opportunities to break again. 

The frustration of failing to break in this game really cost Osaka in the remainder of the opening set. Her following service game was very poor, and she allowed Vickery to break for a second time and presented her with an opportunity to serve the set out. This is an opportunity that Vickery was able to take as she took the opening set 6-3. 

Osaka responds by dominating second set

Osaka came into this match as not only favourite to win, but also one of the main candidates to lift the trophy come the end of the week. After a disappointing opening set, the 20-year-old did not give Vickery a chance to build any momentum as she dominated proceedings in the second set. Osaka was able to set up a deciding set in extremely quick time as she took the second set 6-1, much to the delight of the crowd who were enjoying a superb encounter between two talented players. 

Osaka dominated the second set to get back on level terms. (picture: Getty Images / James Williamson - AMA)
Osaka dominated the second set to get back on level terms. (picture: Getty Images / James Williamson - AMA)

Vickery left thinking what could've been 

Vickery started off the final set in a positive manner by holding her first service game. However, it was not long before Osaka got back into her stride. She was able to hold her first service game despite a strong challenge from Vickery and then broke straight after. Osaka was able to back this break up by holding her serve and took a commanding 3-1 lead. 

This poor start to the final set clearly damaged Vickery's belief that she could go on and win the game. This was shown in the fifth game as an extremely poor service game resulted in Osaka  breaking again to take a 4-1 lead and subsequently taking one big step into the second round of the competition. She was able to eventually see the set out 6-1 to take the match 2-1 and secure her place in the second round.