Japan’s Mai Hontama battled past Chen Pei Hsuan

Japan’s Mai Hontama, who is seeking to become the first girl to win multiple singles titles at the Osaka Mayor’s Cup since Caroline Wozniacki in 2006, battled past Chen Pei Hsuan, of Chinese Taipei, in three sets on Wednesday to progress to the third round and keep her title defense alive.

Seeded fourth, Hontama was the clear favourite going into the clash with Chen, which was the first match on Centre Court at the Utsubo Tennis Centre on Wednesday.

Mai Hontama (JPN)
Mai Hontama (JPN)

And things began in straightforward fashion for the Japanese player as she raced into the lead, taking the first set for the loss of just a single game.

But Chen fought back to take the second set and put the 2015 champion in danger of a premature exit. Hontama raised her level when it mattered most, however, finding her composure once more to close out a 61 46 62 victory.

She will be joined in the third round by the player she defeated in last year’s final: No. 3 seed Yuki Naito eased to a 60 63 win over Moyoka Uchijima.

The top two seeds in the girls’ draw also won comfortably: top seed Anastasia Potapova beat Yuki Ando 61 61, while No. 2 seed Wang Xiyu had to work a little harder to defeat Himeno Sakatsume 75 60.

There were also wins for Ayumi Miyamoto and Emily Appleton, but both the seventh and eighth seeds, Du Zhima and Cho I-Hsuan, were knocked out by lower-ranked opposition.

In the boys’ singles, top seed Miomir Kecmanovic and second seed Yosuke Watanuki – who are both looking to win a second Grade A singles title in Osaka this week – recorded straight sets victories against Yin Bang Shuo and Olukayode Alafia Damina Ayeni respectively.

Third-seeded Nicola Kuhn also won comfortably, but No. 4 seed Alexei Popyrin had to come from behind to defeat Duje Ajdukovic in the third match on Centre Court.

The third round singles matches and doubles quarterfinals are scheduled for Thursday.