WTA

Osaka beats Kostyuk for landmark win at Italian Open

By Sports Desk May 09, 2024

Naomi Osaka recorded her first win over a top-20 opponent on clay at the Italian Open on Thursday, posting an impressive 6-3 6-2 victory against Marta Kostyuk to reach the third round.

Having opened her first Italian Open campaign since 2021 with a straight-sets win over Clara Burel on Wednesday, Osaka produced another slick performance to down the world number 20 one day later.

Osaka blitzed Kostyuk to take the opener in just 36 minutes, taking advantage of a sloppy start from the Ukrainian, who served at just 40 per cent in the first set and tallied 15 unforced errors. 

The former world number one then forced a break within three games in the second set, only for rain to halt proceedings after she went 3-1 up. 

She showed no signs of rustiness upon returning to the court, though, even responding to a late loss of serve with an immediate break back to tee up a third-round clash with 10th seed Daria Kasatkina.

Data Debrief: First for Osaka on least favourite surface

Osaka has never considered herself a clay-court specialist, failing to reach a single tour-level final on the surface throughout her career.

Ahead of Thursday's match, she was 0-8 on clay against opponents in the top 20 of the WTA rankings. However, a routine victory should give her hope of repeating the feat against Kasatkina next time out.

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