NUR-SULTAN – Kazakh tennis player Yulia Putintseva beat Japan’s Naomi Osaka, ranked the best women’s player in the world, during the second round of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham. Putintseva is ranked 43rd by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA); Osaka, a U.S. Open and Australian Open winner, currently tops that list.
The game lasted an hour and 34 minutes, during which the 21-year-old Osaka completed four aces, twice made a mistake when serving and had three break points, while 24-year-old Putintseva filed three times, made two double mistakes and made six break points. Putintseva won with scores of 2-6 and 3-6.
“I was expecting a tough battle, which is what happened, and the score doesn’t [show] the fight that was there. So many games went deuce, advantage, and I could have lost those, but in the end, I won them. I’m happy to get through and [have] another win on grass,” she said during a post-match press conference, the WTA website reports.
“It’s a good feeling when no one expects you to win, because you can play with more freedom. In the end, it doesn’t matter because you are not focused on who is the favourite. You’re just there, trying to do your best,” she added.
This is Putintseva’s second victory over the Japanese athlete.
“It feels great to beat a world No.1, and it’s always great to beat a player as good as Naomi. The last time we played was a different match because it was very windy, and on a hardcourt,” she said.
“I got a lot of tough draws in Birmingham in the past. I have lost to [Czech player Barbora] Strycova and another to [Portuguese player Michelle] Larcher de Brito, who is very good on grass. This year, I started to feel better with my movement on grass. I am happy to have some matches before Wimbledon. I hope I can do even better here,” she added.
The WTA series tournament in Birmingham started June 17. In the first round, Putintseva beat the U.K.’s Harriet Dart, 6-1, 6-4. In the quarter-final on June 21, she played Julia Gorges of Germany, the 2018 Wimbledon semi-finalist and No.19 in the WTA ranking, losing to her 3-6 and 2-6.
The WTA, founded in 1973, was created to help foster equal opportunity for women in sports. It has more than 2,500 players representing 100 nations. The 2019 WTA competitive season includes 55 events and four Grand Slams in 29 countries, culminating with the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China.