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Top-ranked Osaka gets first-round win in Birmingham on grass

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BIRMINGHAM, England — A day after saying she was “not really that comfortable” playing on grass, top-ranked Naomi Osaka needed three sets to get past her first-round opponent at the Birmingham Classic on Tuesday.

Osaka lost the second set to Maria Sakkari of Greece before recovering to win 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, for only her 11th tour-level victory on grass.

“I was kind of screaming on the inside during that entire match,” Osaka said in her on-court interview. “I got lucky a little bit, I guess.”

Osaka has yet to make it past the third round at Wimbledon, which starts on July 1.

“I felt better than the two practice days,” Osaka said. “And I feel every day that I play on grass of course I’m going to learn how to play better, but for now I’m just really happy I was able to win that match.”

Osaka needs to reach the final in Birmingham to guarantee holding on to top spot in the rankings heading into Wimbledon.

“During my entire clay season, it kind of mattered and I think it showed because I was kind of stressed out the entire time,” she said. “So, now, I’m just having fun. I’m enjoying it. And I know that if I play well, then I’ll be No. 1.”

Osaka will next face Yulia Putintseva, who defeated Britain’s Harriet Dart 6-1, 6-4.

Rain washed out much of the schedule Tuesday, with second-seeded Ashleigh Barty – the newly crowned French Open champion – among those who will have to try again on Wednesday.

Julia Goerges recovered to defeat Dayana Yastremska 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 while former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko eased past Wimbledon junior champion Iga Swiatek 6-0, 6-2 and will now face Johanna Konta.

Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic set up a first tour-level meeting with her twin sister, Karolina, by defeating Viktoriya Tomova 6-3, 6-4.

US tennis player Tatishvili wins appeal of French Open fine

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NEW YORK (AP) U.S. tennis player Anna Tatishvili will be awarded her French Open prize money.

The Grand Slam Board reversed its decision to fine her under its first-round performance rule. Tatishvili lost to 29th-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-0, 6-1 in Paris. Her earnings of about $50,000 were docked under the rule allowing fines of first-round checks if players do not “perform to a professional standard.”

The rule, implemented in 2018, aims to deter injured players from entering tournaments to collect their full prize money and then retiring during their first match.

The board acknowledged this was the first fine in which a player completed the match. In the ruling disclosed Friday by Tatishvili’s representatives, the board said it reviewed the match, noted Sakkari’s comments and felt Tatishvili competed “professionally from the first to the very last point.”

Tatishvili was once ranked as high as No. 50. She has had ankle operations and the French Open was her first tournament since October 2017.

More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

U.S. Open purse to surpass $57 million

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NEW YORK — The U.S. Open total purse this year is more than $57 million, the richest in tennis history.

The men’s and women’s singles champion will each receive $3.85 million, and the men’s and women’s doubles champion teams will get $740,000. Those are both the highest payouts in U.S. Open history.

The U.S. Tennis Association said Thursday it worked with the ATP and WTA Tours to determine specific round-by-round prize money levels, and that the payouts for each round are all Grand Slam tournament records.

The payouts start at $58,000 for the first round of singles.

The USTA adds that it will make a payment of $500,000 to each tour to support the ATP and WTA Tour player programs, including pension.

The final major of the year will be played Aug. 26 through Sept. 8.