Wimbledon 2024: Osaka battles past Parry; top 10 seeds Sakkari, Paolini advance, Sun upsets Zheng

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Wimbledon 2024: Osaka battles past Parry; top 10 seeds Sakkari, Paolini advance, Sun upsets Zheng

London: Returning to Wimbledon after a gap of five years, former World No.1 Naomi Osaka came through a difficult battle before reclaiming her winning ways on the lawns of London as she got the better of the 53rd-ranked Diane Parry of France in the first round of women’s singles here on Monday.

Top 10 players Maria Sakkari and Jasmine Paolini also kicked off their campaigns with first-round straight-sets wins on Monday. But Zheng Qinwen was the first Top 10 player to suffer a defeat this fortnight, losing to qualifier Lulu Sun of New Zealand.

Playing the grass-court major for the first time since 2019, Osaka posted a 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 victory over Parry. Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka of Japan needed 1 hour and 32 minutes to hold off Parry and book her spot in the second round.

Osaka was down a break on two separate occasions in the third set before squeaking out the victory in her first career meeting with former top-ranked junior Parry. Osaka made her winning return one day before her daughter’s first birthday.

Osaka will have to wait until the end of the day to find out who her second-round opponent will be. She will meet the winner of the clash between No.19 seed Emma Navarro of the United States and former Top 15 player Wang Qiang of China.

Coming into this year, Osaka had only collected four main-draw wins at Wimbledon, her lowest total at any of the four majors. Osaka reached the third round in 2017 and 2018 but lost to Yulia Putintseva in the 2019 first round.

But Osaka, who returned to tour in January after being on maternity leave in 2023, had a solid grass-court showing ahead of this year’s Wimbledon. Osaka made the ‘s-Hertogenbosch quarterfinals three weeks ago before narrowly losing to fellow US Open champion Bianca Andreescu in a third-set tiebreak.

World No.123 Sun collected a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over No.8 seed Zheng, this year’s Australian Open runner-up. Sun took 1 hour and 57 minutes to fight back from the loss of the first set and clinch a spot in the second round.

It was a breakthrough victory for Sun in many ways. Not only was it the first Top 10 win of her career, it was her first win over a player ranked inside the Top 50. This was also her first Grand Slam main-draw victory, in just her second major main-draw appearance.

Additionally, Sun was nearly eliminated in qualifying last week. She had to save a match point in the second round of qualies before defeating Gabriela Knutson in a final-set 10-point tiebreak. The 23-year-old Sun is the first woman representing New Zealand to reach the second round of a Grand Slam since Marina Erakovic’s run to the Wimbledon third round in 2016.

Earlier, No.9 seed Sakkari of Greece clinched her spot in the second round with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over American qualifier McCartney Kessler. Sakkari needed 1 hour and 11 minutes to oust World No.119 Kessler.

It was an important Grand Slam victory for Sakkari. The Greek has already won 20 matches at the tour level this year, but she had lost in the first round at four of the last five Grand Slam events.

Sakkari is now a win away from making the third round of a Slam for the first time since the 2023 Australian Open. Her next opponent is Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands, who reached the second round of Wimbledon for the first time since 2012 by beating Yuan Yue 6-2, 6-3.

In another match, No.7 seed Paolini of Italy posted her first-ever main-draw victory at Wimbledon by defeating Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo 7-5, 6-3.

Roland Garros runner-up Paolini had lost in the first round of Wimbledon the last three years running, but she broke that duck by toppling 55th-ranked Sorribes Tormo in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

Coming into this year, Paolini had never won a main-draw match at any grass-court event on the Hologic WTA Tour. But the Italian carried her Roland Garros momentum into Eastbourne last week, where she won two matches on grass before falling to eventual champion Daria Kasatkina.

In Monday’s match, Paolini ground out a nearly hour-long first set, then built a 4-0 lead in the second set. Sorribes Tormo battled back on serve at 4-3, aiming to deny Paolini a maiden victory in London, but Paolini regrouped to win the next two games and advance.

Paolini’s next grass-court challenger will be Greet Minnen of Belgium after World No.80 Minnen ousted British hope Heather Watson 7-5, 6-4 on Monday. It will be the first meeting between Paolini and Minnen.


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