Naomi Osaka made a triumphant return to the WTA Tour with a second round win over Coco Gauff in Cincinnati. Although the American was unseeded for this tournament, she posed a potential banana skin for the second seeded Japanese. Coco actually was better in the first set, even though Osaka had a confident start to the match showing that she has put the FRENCH OPEN well behind her. Coco looking nervous on her serve, check out the second point of the first set. She dug deep to pull out of the hole which was good to see. I have always said Coco is very dangerous when she attacks the net in the middle of rallies. Check out 1-1(40-15). Here she loses the point but the movement on the net deserved better, Coco had no right to get the racquet to the ball on that play but she did that impressively. Both served well in this match, first serve at 57% for both ,11 Aces Osaka, 8 for Gauff so it was a matter of who got the better of the rallies. Naomi’s match sharpness was a factor as well. As the first set wore on she started missing some forehand shots she would have otherwise buried in the first half of the year. Check out 3-3 and when Coco broke her serve for the first time at 4-4(15-40). Totally no pressure on Naomi and she missed in completely. Coco taking the first set 6-4.
We all know the hard court is Osaka’s element, aside from her defeat in Tokyo at the Olympics, she has looked formidable on the surface this season. Check out how she bullied the teenager in the rally with awesome ground strokes to force the break back of serve after giving it away so early in the second set at 2-1(adv on deuce). A bit of inexperience from Coco not sorting her feet out on the baseline while making the forehand, thus the unforced error. Osaka right back in this match and she took the second 6-3. Before that Coco showing what she can do when she gets to the net, check out 3-2(adv on deuce). Coco her own worst enemy in this set, her confident serving from the first set suddenly went nervous again, check out the double fault leading to her serve being broken decisively at 4-3(adv Naomi). Motion was all wrong with a touch of foot fault in there. Going into set 3 one could distinguish who was number 2 ranked in the world and who was number 24. Check out the manner in which she dropped her serve again first game of the third set adv Osaka. I will say this again, I am not a fan of the crouching down forehand or backhand shot. Reason is when you are down so low its difficult to clear the net, if you do so its almost by the skin of the teeth like Coco did the first time she did the shot in the rally. Rather a slice backhand would have done the trick. Coco would never recover from the loss of serve and she surrendered the set and the match 6-3. Osaka will play Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann in Round 3.