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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Osaka eases past Azarenka in Rome

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Rising Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka eased into the second round of the Italian Open on Monday with a 6-0 6-3 victory over former world number one Victoria Azarenka, on a day in which local favourite Roberta Vinci called time on her career.

Osaka, whose current form could see her mount a strong challenge at the French Open next month, stormed out of the gates, riding her powerful forehand as she pummelled her Belarusian opponent into submission in an hour and 13 minutes.

The 20-year-old Japanese was dumped out of last week's Madrid Open in the first round, but showed she could compete on clay, hitting winners at will as Azarenka crumbled in the face of her relentless pressure.

"It didn't really feel like it was as easy as I think people think it was," Osaka said after the match. "I'm just really glad I was able to play an opponent like her. Just to even have a chance I think is really great, and I think it was fun."

Next up for Osaka is a second-round clash with world number one Simona Halep. Roberta Vinci was beaten 2-6 6-0 6-3 by Serbia's Aleksandra Krunic in an emotionally charged encounter in front of a packed crowd on Court Pietrangeli.

The 35-year-old had announced her intention to retire from tennis after the tournament, and her exit brings down the curtain on her 20-year career in the sport.

-Reuters

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