June 18, 2019 / 4:04 PM / 4 months ago

Osaka outlasts Sakkari to advance in rain-hit Birmingham Classic

Tennis - WTA Premier - Nature Valley Classic - Edgbaston Priory Club, Edgbaston, Birmingham, Britain - June 18, 2019 Japan's Naomi Osaka in action during her first round match against Greece's Maria Sakkari Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - World number one Naomi Osaka was tested by Maria Sakkari in her first-round match at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham but eventually went through to the last-16 of the grasscourt tournament with a hard-fought 6-1 4-6 6-3 win on Tuesday.

In her first match since her third-round exit at Roland Garros earlier this month, 21-year-old Osaka struggled with her first serve against the world number 33 and took two hours to dispatch her Greek opponent.

However, the Japanese, who lost to Sakkari prior to her U.S. Open title run last year, did manage to fire seven aces and won five break points to clinch victory on a surface she had previously admitted was not her strongest.

Elsewhere, former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko stormed into the next round with a 6-0 6-2 demolition of Iga Swiatek while Petra Martic saw off the challenge of Ekaterina Alexandrova with a 6-3 7-5 win.

However, rain led organisers to bring an early end to the day’s play.

Venus Williams’s match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich and French Open champion and second seed Ashleigh Barty’s encounter against Donna Vekic were both pushed back to Wednesday.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

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