Osaka grinds out opening win on grass

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BIRMINGHAM (AFP) – World number one Naomi Osaka progressed to round two of the Birmingham Classic on Tuesday, but was made to work for a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win over Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

Osaka admitted in her pre-tournament press conference that she still does not feel comfortable on grass.

However, she got off to a flying start in her first match since losing in the third round of the French Open.

Osaka broke the Sakkari serve three times in romping through the first set.

The world number 33 fought back in the second to take the match to a deciding set.

Osaka staved off five break points in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead but then pounced for the only break in the final set.

Yulia Putintseva will face Osaka in round two after easing past Harriet Dart 6-1, 6-4.

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