Naomi Osaka completed her 20th overall win of the season to open her campaign at the Nature Valley Open. The Japanese, one of the three Top 20 in the main draw at the first WTA tournament of the 2018 UK grass court season features alongside Ashleigh Barty and Magdalena Rybarikova, defeated Sachia Vickery 3-6 6-1 6-2 in her maiden comeback win of the season.
She has a lot to improve, her coach Sascha Bajin said, particularly on grass where she has won no more than 12 overall matches in her career. Vickery, now owning a 2-3 win-loss record against Top 20 players, won just 45% of points on her first serve while Osaka dodged three break chances to close out the match after an hour and 52 minutes.
Bidding to claim back-to-back wins on grass for the second time in her career, Osaka will meet Denisa Allertova for the second time after beating her at 2017 Us Open 75 in the third. The Czech, whose serve was on danger only two times, claimed five breaks from six looks and clinched two points every three on return against second serves in her comfortable 6-3 6-1 win over the American Kristie Ahn.
Dalila Jakupovic upset the world No.57 and No.8 seed Camila Giorgi, the highest player she has beaten so far this season. The Slovenian collected the 25th overall win of the season forcing the Italian big-hitter to surrender 7-6(4) 6-2 after a tight first set.
Jakupovic, who was twice a break ahead in the opening set and served to close at 5-4, was more consistent in the big points and Giorgi suffered the 12th defeat out of 13 matches this season after losing the first set. Jakupovic will face for the first time Magdalena Frech who triumphed in a three-set battle against Zheng Saisai, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, in her fourth WTA win.
Ying-ying Duan, after beating 6-2 6-2 Valeria Savinykh facing just two break points in the match, will meet the top seed Barty, a quarterfinalist here in both 2016 and 2017 or Stefanie Voegele. Rybarikova is the No.2 seed in the draw and will have fond memories of this time of year, having posted an 18-2 record on grass in 2017, including a semifinal run at Wimbledon.
Her half of the draw features both last year’s finalists, Johanna Konta and Donna Vekic. The Croat will open her campaign against the British wildcard Gabriella Taylor, the second youngest player in the draw. Having begun 2018 with a series of wins on the ITF Circuit, Taylor is now inside the Top 200 and kicked off her grass court campaign last week, reaching the quarterfinals at $100K ITF event in Surbiton.