ROME, May 16 — World number one Naomi Osaka eased into the third round of the WTA and ATP Italian Open today with a straight sets win over Dominika Cibulkova under the sunshine in Rome after the previous day’s play was washed out.
The 21-year-old Osaka was first up after wintery conditions in the Italian capital wiped out an entire day’s play with competitors now having to play two matches today.
The two-time Grand Slam winner won through 6-3, 6-3 in 1hr 42min for her fourth win in as many games against the 33rd-ranked Slovak who she also beat last week in Madrid.
Osaka reaches the third round in Rome for the first time before breaking through by winning the US Open and Australian Open titles.
Next up for Japan’s Osaka on the red clay of the Foro Italico is either Germany’s Julia Goerges or Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu later today for a place in the quarter-finals.
Roger Federer took to the Central Court just after Osaka to make his return to the Italian Open in a second round match against Portugal’s Joao Sousa.
The winner will then play Croatian 13th seed Borna Coric later in the day.
Federer, a four-time finalist in Rome, returns to Italy after skipping the clay season for the last two years as he concentrated on his grass game.
Last week’s winner in Madrid Novak Djokovic and reigning Rome champion Rafael Nadal also have to be crammed into a packed programme with 55 singles and doubles matches scheduled. — AFP