Naomi Osaka downs Hsieh in Stuttgart opener
Victory ensures the Grand Slam champion will hold on to the WTA top spot for at least another week
Stuttgart — World No 1 Naomi Osaka beat Hsieh Su-wei 6-4 6-3 in her first clay-court match of the season in Stuttgart on Thursday.
US and Australian Open champion Osaka, who lost to Taiwanese veteran Hsieh in Miami in March, secured a place in the quarterfinals against Croatia’s Donna Vekic.
Osaka, 21, broke Hsieh three times in total to beat her for the second time in three attempts in 2019, having also defeated her on the way to lifting the title in Melbourne.
“She’s a tricky opponent. You never know what she’s going to do,” said Osaka who needed 84 minutes to dispatch the unconventional Hsieh, a win that ensures she will hold on to top spot for at least another week.
She is less than 200 points ahead of Simona Halep in the WTA rankings, although the Romanian pulled out of this week’s tournament with a hip injury.
Top-seed Osaka fought off the only two break points she faced, in a lengthy service hold for 2-all in the opening set, before breaking Hsieh in the following game. That was sufficient to wrap up the first set, and a Hsieh double-fault handed Osaka a break to start the second before she closed out victory with another service break.
The Japanese star arrived in Stuttgart, where she last played in Stuttgart as a qualifier in 2017, after suffering early exits in her last three tournaments.
“Definitely I’ve put a lot on pressure on myself and found it hard to deal with in the first few tournaments,” she said. “I’m really having fun now though.”
Osaka will meet Vekic, a 6-1 7-5 winner over Daria Kasatkina, for a spot in the last four, while Latvian seventh-seed Anastasija Sevastova defeated Germany’s Laura Siegemund 6-4 6-3.