Competing for the first time since Stuttgart when she had to withdraw due to an abdominal injury, world no. 1 Naomi Osaka has made a good start at Madrid Mutua Open, defeating 2016 Madrid finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 7-6 in just under two hours.
It was the third win for Osaka over Cibulkova in as many matches and the crowd had the opportunity to watch a high-quality contest between two aggressive baseliners who both finished the encounter with more winners than unforced errors.
Naomi struggled on the second serve but did enough to cross the finish line in straight sets, saving three out of five break points and delivering four breaks of serve to book the place in the last 32. Cibulkova has won just one out of seven matches on the WTA tournaments in 2019, making a good start today with a break in game three before Osaka rattled off five straight games for a 6-2, gathering the momentum before the second set where she had to work harder to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard.
Leading 4-2 in set number two, the Slovak lost the advantage when Naomi broke back in game eight, with four good holds sending them into a tie break that offered 11 mini-breaks in 14 points! In the end, Naomi prevailed 8-6 to seal the deal and avoid a decider and more time spent on the court.
"All in all, I felt pretty good on the court, happy that I don't feel my ab flare and relieved after beating a super competitive rival in straight sets. I'm just trying to make progress on clay and win more matches before the French Open. For me, the key is to be patient and have fun on the court."