Naomi Osaka quickly found her footing on dirt, even though her first opponent this claycourt season was Hsieh Su-Wei, the Chinese Taipei veteran who had eliminated the world No.1 from the Miami Open, the last tournament the two-time Grand Slam champion played prior to this week’s Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
The top-seeded Osaka didn’t have much trouble solving the Hsieh riddle in the second round of Stuttgart, triumphing 6-4 6-3, their first straight-set match in four meetings. The biggest disparity was in the number of aces, as Osaka hit seven compared to Hsieh’s two, and in break point conversions, since Osaka was perfect in holding her serve while Hsieh was broken three times.
This second-round encounter will also be remembered as Osaka’s first official match in Nike gear, after abandoning Adidas at the start of April. The clothing partnership launch was low-key, as Osaka opted for a basic black and white outfit.
In the quarterfinals of the Premier-level tournament in Stuttgart, Osaka will face unseeded Donna Vekic, who marched past Daria Kasatkina 6-1 7-5 simultaneously on Court 1. Vekic absolutely dominated the first set, but faced more resistance in the second. However, Kasatkina was twice unable to hold on to her leads and Vekic closed the deal with one final break when Kasatkina double-faulted on the first match point.