WTA Birmingham: Naomi Osaka, Petra Martic and Julia Goerges make good start

Tennis - Yulia Putintseva, Jelena Ostapenko and Kristyna Pliskova are in the second round as well

by Jovica Ilic
WTA Birmingham: Naomi Osaka, Petra Martic and Julia Goerges make good start

World no. 1 Naomi Osaka has kicked off grass swing with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 triumph over Maira Sakkari in two hours. The Greek defeated Osaka last year in Cincinnati and fought valiantly today as well, creating 11 break chances and converting only two to ruin her chances for a more favorable result.

On the other hand, the Japanese grabbed 46% of the return points, enough for five breaks from nine opportunities, prevailing in the fifth game of the decider to bring the match home and move into the second round. Osaka fended off two break points in the second game and broke Sakkari three times in a row for a commanding 6-1, looking good to bring the encounter home in straight sets.

Maria fought back in the middle of the second set, earning breaks in games five and seven and securing the set with a hold at love in game ten to set up a decider where she had the momentum now. At 2-2, Naomi repelled six break points and that proved to be the turning point, stealing Sakkari's serve in the next game and sealing the deal with a hold in game nine.

Yulia Putintseva needed 81 minutes to dismiss Harriet Dart 6-1, 6-4, losing serve once and conquering almost half of the return points to deliver four breaks from eight chances, taking six of the last eight games to sail into the second round.

The 8th seed Julia Goerges defeated the young gun Dayana Yastremska 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 45 minutes, winning just four points more than her rival who broke five times from as many chances. Having to work hard on the return to erase that deficit, trailing 6-3, 4-2 before taking the last four games of set number two to force the decider and grab the momentum.

Two breaks in set number three were enough for Julia to seal the deal and escape an early exit, facing Evgeniya Rodina in the second round. After a great result at Roland Garros, Petra Martic has found the form on grass too, beating Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3, 7-5 in 86 minutes.

The Croat saved four out of five break points, stealing the rival's serve three times and coming from 4-1 down in set number two to cross the finish line and wrap up the triumph in straight sets.

Naomi Osaka Julia Goerges Yulia Putintseva