Tokyo - Former world No 1 Angelique Kerber thrashed Japan's
Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-4 at the Pan Pacific Open women's tennis tournament on Monday
to avenge a humiliating loss at the US Open.
Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic suffered an epic Tokyo
meltdown, meanwhile, as she was pulverised by China's Wang Qiang, who inflicted
the dreaded "double bagel" on the eighth seed to win 6-0, 6-0 and
reach the second round.
Kerber, seeded seventh, crashed to a shock 6-3, 6-1
first-round defeat by Osaka in New York last month as defending champion but a
repeat never looked like happening as the German quickly took control.
Kerber, who has slipped back to 14th in the world since
winning last year's Australian and US Open titles, ripped forehands past her
teenage opponent seemingly at will in the first set.
Osaka's game unravelled completely in the second, allowing
Kerber a welcome opportunity to work her way back to form after a poor run of
results and seal victory in an hour and 23 minutes.
The 19-year-old Osaka, born of a Haitian father and a
Japanese mother, went on to reach the third round of the US Open after stunning
But the world number 44 almost appeared to be tanking at
times at the venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, such was her lack of gusto, and
committed 38 unforced errors in a performance she will want to forget in a
Elsewhere, Japanese wildcard Kurumi Nara beat Kazakhstan's
Yulia Putintseva 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.
"It gives me confidence that I was able to turn it
around," said Nara. "Hopefully I can take that spirit into the next
Meanwhile, two-time champion Agnieszka Radwanska, seeded
sixth, pulled out of the tournament with a virus, according to organisers.
Wimbledon champion and new women's world No 1 Garbine
Muguruza heads a strong field in Tokyo featuring several top 10 players
including Karolina Pliskova, Caroline Wozniacki and Johanna Konta.
Results of singles matches at the Pan Pacific Open women's tennis tournament in Tokyo on Monday (x denotes seeding):
Angelique Kerber (GER x7) bt Naomi Osaka (JPN) 6-3, 6-4
Kurumi Nara (JPN) bt Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 2-6, 6-4, 6-2