Tokyo Open: Luidmila Samsonova posts dominant win in opener to begin title defence!

Except for Mai Hontama, the rest of the home favourities disappointed on the first day of play

by Abbey Johnson
Tokyo Open: Luidmila Samsonova posts dominant win in opener to begin title defence!
© Clive Brunskill/ Getty Images

Liudmila Samsonova, the 2022 Tokyo Open titlist, returned to the tournament in 2023, with a win. The seventh seed defeated Tatjana Maria 6-0, 6-2 in a minute past the hour on Monday, in the first round. Samsonova dictated the match from its first point until its last.

The victor won 77% of her first-serve points and 67% of her second-serve points. She also won 59% points on return on the German’s first serve and 57% points on the latter’s second-serve return. Samsonova faced two break points and saved both while converting five of the eight break points that came her way on her opponent’s serve.

The 24-year-old, ranked 22nd in the world, had a positive differential between her winners’ and unforced errors’ count, hitting 25 of the former and 15 of the latter. Samsonova will play either Anna Kalinskaya or Ekaterina Alexandrova in the second round.

Kalinskaya received a main draw wildcard this week.

Tokyo Open: Elena Rybakina's campaign ends even before its start

Meanwhile, world no. 5 Elena Rybakina who’d previously expressed her discontent about the way the tournament had announced “performance byes”, was forced to withdraw from the event entirely, due to ill-health.

In a message, the 24-year-old conveyed, “I'm really sorry to have to withdraw from Tokyo this year. I was really looking forward to playing the event and I love the city. I have to prioritise my health and fitness and need time to get to 100% health”.

Home player Himeno Sakatsume’s taken Rybakina’s place in the draw as a lucky loser and will take on the Czech Republic’s Linda Noskova. On Monday, there was a first-round Japanese derby between Mai Hontama and Nao Hibino.

Hontama, who qualified for the main draw, defeated her fellow countrywoman, who received a wildcard, 6-2, 6-4 after 67 minutes of play. Hontama’s next opponent will be the world no. 2, Iga Swiatek. Two other Japanese players who played their round-of-32 clashes also crashed out.

Spain’s Cristina Bucsa got past local qualifier Rina Saigo, 6-1, 6-2 in 75 minutes. Kalya Day got through against home wildcard, Moyuka Uchijima, 6-2, 6-2 in merely 66 minutes. Lastly, Anhelina Kalinina also moved into the second round of the Tokyo Open.

The Ukrainian needed an hour and 11 minutes to best Ashlyn Krueger 6-3, 6-1. Kalinina faced eight break points but saved seven of these. She also converted five of the six break point chances she got on the American’s serve.

Mai Hontama