Contreras Gomez ousts Kenin in Tokyo;  Osaka advances after Saville injury

Contreras Gomez ousts Kenin in Tokyo; Osaka advances after Saville injury

Mexican qualifier Fernanda Contreras Gomez defeated 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 7-6(7), 6-4 in the first round of the Toray Pan Pacific Open. The victory was Contreras Gomez’s first career win in a Hologic WTA Tour main-draw match.

Ranked No.131, Contreras Gomez will face No.4 seed Veronika Kudermetova in the next round.

In the night session, defending champion Naomi Osaka advanced after just one game. The home favorite was leading 1-0, 30-30 when Daria Saville injured her knee leaping for a forehand. The Australian collapsed to the ground in pain, and after treatment, she was unable to continue.

Afterwards, Osaka sent well wishes to Saville in a video message.

“I just wanted to wish you the best,” she said. “I just want to let you know you’re one of the funniest people on the tour, and I still remember all the nice things that you said to me at the French [Open] this year. I want you to know that I’m wishing you the best. I hope that it’s not a major injury at all and you’ll bounce back, because I know that’s what you’re good at.”

Osaka will next face No.5 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia, who held off 21-year-old wild card Yuki Naito 6-4, 6-2 in 1 hour and 44 minutes. Japan’s Naito battled hard in her second WTA main-draw match, but despite some brilliance at net, the World No.210 could not match Haddad Maia’s consistency.

Highlights: Haddad Maia d. Naito

Despite her position as a qualifier, Contreras Gomez was the higher-ranked player in her Tokyo opener. Kenin, who reached a career-high No.4 in 2020, has seen her ranking slip to No.315 as she works her way back from injury.

After saving a set point late in the first-set tiebreak, Contreras Gomez dominated the second set to build a 5-1 lead. Kenin fought valiantly to put the set back on serve, but Contreras Gomez broke the American one last time to seal the win after 1 hour and 46 minutes.

Contreras Gomez, 24, made her tour-level debut at Roland Garros in the spring. After qualifying for her first Slam main draw, the three-time All-American from Vanderbilt beat Panna Udvardy to earn her first tour-level win. While she continued to successfully qualify at the Slams, it was not until Tokyo that Contreras Gomez earned a spot in the main draw of a WTA tournament.

From robots to novels, Fernanda Contreras Gomez’s unorthodox path to the WTA

No.6 seed Karolina Pliskova and No.28 Zhang Shuai needed just 57 minutes each to advance to the second round. Pliskova defeated Bulgarian qualifier Isabella Shinikova 6-2, 6-1 and will face Petra Martic.

Zhang ousted Japanese wild card Mai Hontama 6-0, 6-3. She will face No.2 seed Caroline Garcia.

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