World No.2 Naomi Osaka continued her dwindling form on clay as she lost to Jessica Pegula in the second round of Italian Open 2021.
Osaka looked comfortable on the court early on. Pegula wasn’t getting her service right, and hence Osaka was easily returning it. Osaka got the first break of the match and later got a 3-0 lead in the set. But the tide quickly turned towards Pegula’s side.
Serving at 3-0, Pegula had a good first-serve percentage that was becoming hard for Osaka to navigate. Osaka was serving at 3-1, but struggled to stay is longer rallies. Pegula pulled off some great service returns and extended the rallies to trouble Osaka. The Japanese hit a double fault to give the break to Pegula and level the set 3-3.
Osaka frustrated. She had a SP but eventually lost the set in the TB. #IBI21 pic.twitter.com/IAHfKGvDGe
But Osaka wasn’t losing too soon, the former World No.1 displayed her aggression. Despite a shaky start, Osaka was trying to find the lines with her backhand, and to Pegula’s relief, she missed some of them. Osaka was targeting Pegula’s forehand to find a weakness. Osaka was right in doing so, as Pegula was not consistent with her forehand.
Serving at 5-4, Pegula’s forehand didn’t help as Osaka saw her first set point. Pegula saved them to extend the opening set. As Osaka quickly navigated her service game to lead 6-5, Pegula was under pressure once again. Osaka fired in multiple forehand winners to again have a chance of winning the set but Pegula saved them all and took the set to the tiebreaker. Naomi later went from 2-2 to lose the tiebreaker 7-2 and the set 7-6.
The second set was no different from Osaka, who was struggling on the clay courts of the Italian Open. Osaka’s quality decreased as Pegula started hitting all corners of the court. Osaka’s backhand became highly fragile as Pegula was the first to break in the second set and lead 3-1.
But Pegula gifted Osaka the break back courtesy of unforced errors. But one point in the second set showed Osaka’s bad day. Serving at 3-2, and 40-30 down, Osaka missed an easy overhead smash and gave the break back to Pegula. The American quickly took served to put pressure on Osaka. While serving to stay in the match at 5-2, Osaka looked jaded and quickly was sent packing by Pegula. The second set ended in just 33 mins Pegula winning the match 7-6(2), 6-2.
🇺🇸 @JLPegula makes it FIVE career Top-10 wins with a straight-sets victory over No.2 seed Osaka!#IBI21 pic.twitter.com/yVahRBAbXm
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