Zheng overpowers Osaka on grass with salvo of aces

tennis18 June 2024 16:41| Ā© AFP
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Zheng Qinwen Ā© Getty Images

Zheng Qinwen blasted a barrage of aces as she beat Naomi Osaka 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 on Tuesday in first round of the Berlin Open.

World No 8 Zheng served 23 aces, the most on WTA Tour this season, to start her Wimbledon preparations with a win.

"I was trying to improve the consistency of the serve because I know it's so important, especially on grass courts," the 21-year-old said.

"One break and you win the set, one break and you lose the set. That's precisely what happened today."

In other matches, Victoria Azarenka, a 34-year-old former Australian Open champion, knocked out Greek seventh seed Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-2.

Zheng had not won on grass since June 2022.

"I don't have too many wins on grass because last year I lost in the first round at all three tournaments," Zheng said.

But, she added, "I love to play on grass courts."

Zheng hit seven aces as she took the first set in 41 minutes.

Osaka made 13 unforced errors in the first set, but only seven as she won the second after breaking Zheng for the only time in the match to lead 4-2.

Zheng broke in the fourth game of the third set and held the rest of the way to win.

Osaka, who is returning this season after giving birth to her daughter, lost on grass for the second time in five days.

The Japanese star looked strong on clay at Roland Garros, holding a match point against eventual French Open winner Iga Swiatek in the second round.

She has never played her best tennis on grass, her four Grand Slam victories have come on the hard courts at the US and Australian Open, but she reached the quarterfinals 's-Hertogenbosch grass before losing to Bianca Andreescu on Friday.

Zheng will face Katerina Siniakova in the second round.

The Czech qualifier beat Emma Navarro 6-4, 6-3 in the first round.