WTA Osaka: Elise Mertens, Camila Giorgi and Nicole Gibbs make winning start


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WTA Osaka: Elise Mertens, Camila Giorgi and Nicole Gibbs make winning start

World no. 24 Elise Martens has made an impressive start in Osaka, defeating a lucky loser Whitney Osuigwe 6-3, 6-1 in 62 minutes. The 17-year-old American got the opportunity to play in the main draw but there was nothing she could have done against the better-ranked rival, taking only 11 points on the return and squandering all four break chances, with all the pressure lingering on her side of the net.

The Belgian was equally impressive on the return as well, taking almost half of the points behind Whitney's initial shot and earning four breaks from seven opportunities to control the scoreboard all the time and play better and better as the match progressed to find herself in the second round.

Nicole Gibbs needed an hour and 42 minutes to take down the fellow American Alison Riske 6-4, 6-3, playing on a higher level in the pivotal moments to cross the finish line first and advance into the last 16. Nicole fended off seven out of eight break chances, stealing half of the return points to grab four breaks from 16 opportunities, kicking off the encounter in a powerful way and clinching the first set with a break in game seven.

The second set lasted longer despite having only nine games, with Gibbs securing four of the last five games from 2-2 to move over the top and celebrate a notable victory over the player from the top-35. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova took down the young Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska 6-3, 6-1 in swift 55 minutes, serving at 73% and dropping 16 points in eight service games to challenge the youngster all the time.

Dayana managed to notch two breaks and she needed much more than that to stay competitive, losing tremendous 66% of the points in her games and giving serve away six times (thrice in each set) from eight chances offered to Anastasia to end her run in the first round.

A qualifier Zarina Diyas toppled Monica Puig 6-0, 6-3 in 58 minutes after a rock-solid performance on both serve and return that left Monica far behind. Zarina gave away just nine points in her games, facing no break points and dominating on the return as well for five breaks from ten chances, rattling off the first eight games of the clash and sealing the deal with another break at 5-3 in set number two to book the place in the next round.

Camila Giorgi ousted the Chinese qualifier Xinyun Han 7-6, 6-1, getting broken three times and erasing that deficit with six successful return games that propelled her through. Han led 5-3 in the first set and had set points in game nine, wasting them both and losing serve in the next game to bring Camila back to 5-5.

The Italian claimed the tie break 8-6 and gathered the momentum ahead of set number two where she delivered four breaks to march over the finish line.