TOKYO. Naomi Osaka, who played her first match since the US Open, advanced to the second round of the Toray Pan Pacific Open when Australia’s Daria Saville retired with a knee injury in the second game of their match of the evening.
Unseeded Osaka is the reigning champion who won in his home country of Osaka in 2019 before COVID-19 closed the tournament for two years.
“I feel really bad right now because of how it ended,” the Japanese player told fans at the Ariake Coliseum. “I’ve been injured for most of the year so I just want people to applaud her because she’s a really amazing player.”
Osaka, which was 1-0 when Saville withdrew, had lost the first match in her previous three tournaments, including the US Open last month, although she reached the Miami Open final in April.
In other games, No. 6 Karolina Pliskova beat strong Isabella Shinikova 6-2, 6-1, Mexican Fernanda Contreras Gomez beat 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 7-6 (9-7), 6-4, fifth. Seeded Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maya beat Japan’s Yuki Naito 6-4, 6-2, while China’s Zhang Shuai beat Japan’s Mai Hontama 6-0, 6-3.
All matches were played indoors as Typhoon Nanmadol’s tail passed through Tokyo.
Former world No. 1 Pliskova, champion of Tokyo four years ago, had little problem with Shinikova, who finished 214th. The Czech tennis player dominated her opponent, who had to qualify to get into the main draw, and said she returned to form after an injury earlier in the year.
“I missed the start of the season because I broke my arm, so I had a slower start to the season, but I feel like I played really good games in the summer in America,” Pliskova said. “I made it to the quarterfinals of the US Open… so I think I’m in good shape.”
Kenin, 23, has seen her rating plummet to 315 from 4th in her career. She failed to win her first match in 10 of the 12 tournaments she played in 2022 after a year due to injury. While her topspin forehand still had some magic, she didn’t look in good shape, and the hard-nosed Contreras Gomez, 24, only needed consistency to get the upper hand.
Contreras Gomez hit nine aces in her win, giving her a second-round victory with Veronika Kudermetova in fourth place.
World No. 180 Hontama, who reached the second round at Wimbledon this year, gave hope to home fans in the second set, leveling world No. 28 Shuai before tiring out in the last three games.
Shuai, who won in Lyon earlier this year to reach the round of 16 at the US Open, will face second-placed Caroline Garcia.
In the penultimate match of the day, fifth-placed Haddad Maya edged out Naito before facing Osaka.
Osaka won the match after Saville retired from Tokyo originally appeared on NBCSports.com