Angelique Kerber looked solid in her opening round 6-3, 6-4 win at the Toray Pan Pacific Open over Naomi Osaka. The German avenged her loss in the opening round of the US Open to the Japanese who blew her off the court.
Kerber Absorbs Osaka's Power
The German had the early opportunities to break Osaka after the Japanese took a short ball and dumped it well wide with a backhand, but a forehand long on break point had the 19-year-old back at deuce. It was Osaka's turn to hit a forehand long to give Kerber a second break chance, and a net cord fell onto Osaka's side which gave the break to the two-time Grand Slam champion, leaving the crowd in shock.
A frustrated Osaka had the upper hand on the German as Kerber was serving to consolidate the break but could not get the break back. The 19-year-old Japanese found herself in trouble once again after the 29-year-old German began to find more angles to earn two chances for a double break lead. Osaka was able to hold off Kerber though to keep herself within touching distance in the set.
Whether it was a lack of confidence or having difficulty dealing with the German's counterpunching and change of pace, you could sense something was off about Osaka. Kerber did brilliantly in this set to find those acute angles and painting the lines as she earned triple set point on the Osaka serve. The German put the teenager in some difficult positions as a forehand wide from Osaka gave the opening set to Kerber.
Kerber Comes From Behind To Win In Straights
Both women opened the second set with holds, but Osaka ran into some trouble in her second service game before holding for two apiece. The Japanese finally gave her home crowd something to cheer about, breaking at the first time of asking for a 3-2 lead in the second.
Down break point on her serve once again, Osaka pulled out all the stops to get Kerber on the run and finished the point off with a swinging forehand volley. Osaka was not lucky in her ensuing service game though, getting broken back after hitting a backhand wide.
Kerber held at love to put the pressure on Osaka to serve to extend the match. It was a match filled with unforced errors from the teenager so it felt oddly fitting that she capped off the match by blasting a powerful forehand wide to give the German the victory.