Naomi Osaka, who on Friday night lit the Olympic Cauldron to kick off Tokyo 2020, blitzed through her first Olympic match on Sunday, defeating S. Zheng of China 6-1, 6-4.
S. Zheng Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Even though this was her first competitive match in nearly two months, the defending Australian and US Open champion rolled to a 5-0 lead and cruised to a 1-0, 27-minute triumph in her first competitive outing.
After world No. 1 Ash Barty was shocked in her opening match by Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo, Osaka stepped onto Centre Court to provide as a timely reminder that ranking and reputation mean little on such a unique stage as the Olympic Games.
The 23-year-old, now the top seed in the tournament, started off strong with three aces in her first four serves to take command at Ariake Tennis Park. She continued to play with restraint and precision throughout the first set, before turning up the intensity in the second.
Zheng Ranked 52 in the World
S. Zheng, ranked 52 in the world, like Osaka missed Wimbledon so that the Chinese Olympic team could focus on Tokyo. Despite winning a series of back-and-forth rallies, which even earned her some praise from the world No. 2, she was ultimately no match for Osaka’s speed and power.
Zheng changed racquets before the second set, and it seemed to improve, but a break in the third game was the deciding factor.
Osaka missed two match points at 5-3, but she closed out the match with a service victory on match point three, finishing with 17 winners (including six aces) against her opponent’s seven.
Swiss player Viktorija Golubic, who beat Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia in under an hour on Saturday to become the first player to win a match at Tokyo 2020, will be Osaka’s opponent in the next round.
At the press conference that followed her match, Osaka announced that in March, around the time of the Miami Open, she will be the one to fire the Olympic Cauldron.
‘I was quite pleased and honoured,’ she gushed.
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