Osaka claims Azarenka scalp, Vinci bids farewell

Naomi Osaka added another prestigious scalp to a growing list, while Roberta Vinci brought her career to an end in Rome.

Naomi Osaka at the Internazionali d'Italia   -  Getty Images

As Naomi Osaka's fledgling career goes from strength to strength, Roberta Vinci's came to an end at the Internazionali d'Italia on Monday.

Osaka added another name to her impressive list of scalps by beating Victoria Azarenka in straight sets on the clay in Rome.

The 20-year-old Japanese star looks like a player who should challenge for major honours for years to come, while Vinci can reflect on a career in which she won every slam in doubles and reached the final of the US Open in singles. 

The curtain was brought down on Vinci's time in professional tennis with a first-round defeat to Aleksandra Krunic.


If any further demonstration of Osaka's potential was needed, it came emphatically as she brushed aside Azarenka.

She dished out a bagel against the former world number one in the first set, and required only an hour and 13 minutes to claim a 6-0 6-3 success.

Osaka has now beaten Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Azarenka without dropping a set.

Next up, another chance for a statement victory as Osaka takes on world number one Simona Halep in round two.



Ninth seed and reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens did not enjoy the same serene progress as Osaka, needing to fight back after losing the first set in a tie-break to Barbora Strycova, the American recovering to win 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-1 to set up a clash with Kaia Kanepi after her win over Camilla Rosatello.

Madison Keys, who Stephens defeated in the final at Flushing Meadows, overcame Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 6-1 and will face Donna Vekic - a straight-sets winner over Carla Suarez Navarro - next.

But compatriot Coco Vandeweghe suffered a shock defeat as the 12th seed was thrashed 6-1 6-1 by Anett Kontaveit, while 17th seed Magdalena Rybarikova was also knocked out with a 6-4 6-3 loss to two-time grand slam semi-finalist Johanna Konta.



Despite ending her career with a 2-6 6-0 6-3 loss to Krunic, Vinci was pleased with how she brought her time on the tour to its culmination.

"A week ago, [I took] the calendar, and went, nine, eight, seven - a countdown," Vinci said. "I know I practiced less than usual. When I saw that I play today, I was happy - I tried to enjoy my game, finish in a good way, and say 'Thank you,' to all the people. Here in Rome was the perfect end of my career."

Alison Van Uytvanck came through a two hour and 19-minute battle with Samantha Stosur, with her dubious reward a clash with Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki.

Elsewhere in the draw there were wins for Petra Martic, Dominika Cibulkova, Daria Gavrilova and Zhang Shuai.

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