Naomi Osaka Starts Italian Open Campaign With Her First Win In Rome Since 2019

Naomi Osaka Starts Italian Open Campaign With Her First Win In Rome Since 2019

by Zachary Wimer

Naomi Osaka started her 2024 Italian Open with a good win over Clara Burel, her first win at the event in five years, as the last one came in 2019.

There is a reason why Osaka hasn't won in Rome since 2019, and it's mostly because she hasn't played on clay much in the past. Much like grass, it wasn't a surface she focused on too much and wasn't very good at.

The last event she played before this one was in 2021, and she lost to Jessica Pegula in her first match. That 2019 edition was the best one she had as she made it to the quarter-final before withdrawing prior to her match against Kiki Bertens.

She only played two more times at the event before that, which shows that it wasn't really high on her priority list. This year, she's taking it seriously, and her performances are improving every day.

Her Madrid Open campaign didn't go that badly and the start at the WTA 1000 tournament in Rome wasn't bad either. Burel has spent more time on the clay courts than Osaka, but she was not as good in this match.

The opening set was very close, though, as both looked confident on the serve early. Osaka created some chances midway through but failed to break.

She broke not long after that, taking a 5-3 lead, but she also lost it immediately. The set was settled in the tie-break, which the former world no. 1 would win 7-2. The second set was quite a bit easier for the Japanese player, as she broke early and then added another break later on.

She finished it off quite quickly, winning the match 7-6(2), 6-1 against a capable clay player. She recently predicted that things would start clicking for her, and that was certainly the case in this match. Next up is Marta Kostyuk, which is a really tricky matchup for her.


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