WTA Birmingham: Yulia Putintseva sends pale Naomi Osaka packing


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WTA Birmingham: Yulia Putintseva sends pale Naomi Osaka packing

After an early exit at Roland Garros, world no. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has not made an impressive debut on grass this year either, losing to Yulia Putintseva 6-2, 6-3 in 68 minutes! Uncomfortable on the fastest surface, Osaka never looked like a decent opponent to the Kazakh who suffered three breaks of serve but destroyed the rival on the return, taking 60% of those points and seizing six breaks from ten chances.

Putintseva took down Osaka in Hobart last year and she ruled the court today as well over the opponent who hit 23 unforced errors in the first set alone! Instead of chasing winners, Yulia opted to control the pace of her shots, delivering 11 aces and just nine unforced errors while Osaka counted to 21 winners but also 37 mistakes, unable to find the range and impose her strokes.

The Kazakh earned the first break in the second game after a deep return, moving 4-0 in front with a return winner and clinching the opener after a forehand error from Naomi in game eight. Yulia broke at love in the second game of the second set following another loose forehand from Osaka who pulled it back in the very next game when Putintseva hit a double fault.

Gathering the momentum in those moments, Naomi grabbed another break in the fifth game to move in front before fading from the court completely. Her forehand let her down again in the sixth game to bring the rival back on the positive side of the scoreboard and there was only one player on the court in the rest of the encounter, as Yulia moved 5-3 up with a broke at love in game eight thanks to a forehand down the line winner.

Serving for the career-best triumph, the Kazakh landed a slice winner in game nine to march over the top and enter the quarter-final.