Naomi Osaka said she had been “really riled up” as Japan’s two-time Grand Slam champion reached the second round at the China Open on Sunday despite being far from her best.
The 21-year-old former world number one racked up 26 unforced errors on the way to a 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) win over Jessica Pegula of the United States.
Fourth seed Osaka looked frustrated and disgruntled on several occasions against the 76th-ranked Pegula. Osaka, who plays Andrea Petkovic of Germany next in Beijing, was disappointed that she was unable to replicate the form which won her the Pan Pacific Open in Japan a week ago.
“During tournaments, the first match is always the worst for me,” said the US-based star. “I don’t know, I thought it would carry on. I was a little bit frustrated that I felt my game wasn’t really where I left it. I just felt like today I was really riled up, not really sure why,” she added, also describing herself as “very stressed” and “very nervous”.
Another two-time Grand Slam winner, Simona Halep, cruised into round two in Beijing with a 6-1, 6-1 demolition of qualifier Rebecca Peterson.
The Romanian has had ongoing problems with her back and, despite having little trouble swatting aside the Swede, admitted she was unable to play her normal game.
Venus Williams battled into the next round with a 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 victory over Barbora Strycova.
Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta claimed his first ATP title in more than two years after coming back from a set down to beat big-serving Alexander Bublik 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(3) in the Chengdu Open final in China on Sunday.
World number 63 Carreno Busta withstood 31 aces from his 6ft 5ins Kazakh opponent to lift his fourth ATP title after just over two hours.