SHOCKING: Australian Open Quarterfinalist Jessica Pegula Sweeps Naomi Osaka Aside at Italian Open 2021

Published 05/12/2021, 7:16 AM EDT
Mar 31, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts after missing a shot against Maria Sakkari of Greece (not pictured) in a women’s singles quarterfinal in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports


World No.2 Naomi Osaka continued her dwindling form on clay as she lost to Jessica Pegula in the second round of Italian Open 2021. And now she has lost three of her last four matches.

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Naomi Osaka fails to convert her chances against Jessica Pegula in Italian Open 2021

Osaka looked comfortable on the court early on. Pegula wasn’t getting her service right, and hence Osaka was easily returning it. Osaka got the first break of the match and later took a 3-0 lead in the set. But the tide pivoted to Pegula’s side.

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Naomi Osaka in action during her second road match against Jessica Pegula of U.S. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Serving at 3-0, Pegula had a good first-serve percentage that was becoming hard for Osaka to navigate. Osaka was serving at 3-1 but struggled to stay in longer rallies. Pegula pulled off some great service returns and extended the rallies to trouble Osaka. The Japanese hit a double fault to give the break to Pegula and level the set 3-3.

But Osaka wasn’t losing too soon. The former World No.1 displayed her aggression. Despite a shaky start, Osaka was trying to find the lines with her backhand, and to Pegula’s relief, she missed some of them. Osaka was targeting Pegula’s forehand to find a weakness. Osaka was right in doing so, as Pegula was not consistent with her forehand.

Serving at 5-4, Pegula’s forehand didn’t help her as Osaka saw the first set point. Pegula saved them to extend the opening set. As Osaka quickly navigated her service game to lead 6-5, Pegula was under pressure once again.

Osaka fired in multiple forehand winners to again have a chance of winning the set, but Pegula saved them all and took the set to the tiebreaker. Naomi later went from 2-2 to lose the tiebreaker 7-2 and the set 7-6.

Osaka slumps against Pegula in the second set

Jessica Pegula of U.S. celebrates during her second-round match against Japan’s Naomi Osaka REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

The second set was no different from Osaka, who was struggling on the clay courts of the Italian Open. Osaka’s quality decreased as Pegula started hitting all corners of the court. Osaka’s backhand was highly fragile, as Pegula was the first to break in the second set and lead 3-1.

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But Pegula gifted Osaka the break back courtesy of unforced errors. But one point in the second set highlighted Osaka’s bad day. Serving at 3-2, and 40-30 down, Osaka missed an easy overhead smash and gave the break back to Pegula. The American quickly served to put pressure back on Osaka. While serving to stay in the match at 5-2, Osaka looked jaded and quickly was sent packing by Pegula. The second set ended in just 33 mins; Pegula winning the match 7-6(2), 6-2.

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Bhavishya Mittal

1084 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.

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