Jessica Pegula successfully exploited the well-known clay weakness of Naomi Osaka to knock the second seed out of the Rome Masters on Wednesday.
The winner, an Australian Open quarter-finalist who reached the third round last week in Madrid, said that the discomfort of the four-time Grand Slam champion on clay was all she needed to know for her second-round upset at the Foro Italico.
“I know she doesn’t love clay, so I just tried to be the clay court player out there today – and it worked just good enough,” Pegula said.
“It’s probably her least-favorite surface. But it still is a win, and I still want to take confidence away from that knowing that I can play.
“I’m not really a clay court player, but I did grow up on green clay in the States so I’m not too unfamiliar with it.
“It’s been a while since I really played a lot on clay. I just played the French Open (for the first time) last year.
“It’s taken me longer than I thought to kind of get used to it again, but I’m starting to find my range.”
The 31st-ranked Pegula is playing Rome for the first time and took full advantage of 37 unforced errors from her Japanese opponent, earning the fifth Top 10 win of her career.
Victory was also revenge for a 2019 loss to Osaka in Beijing.
The American will carry confidence into her buildup for the French Open starting on May 30.
“Obviously there are clay court tournaments coming up, this is still an important part of the season.
“”Naomi’s obviously been kind of unbeatable on hard court, but I knew I had chances today.
“I played solid, a good match. I’m just going to try and take all the confidence I can from this match.”
Main photo:- Jessica Pegula wins her first match in Rome by WTATennis.com