Second seed Osaka falls at first hurdle in Rome

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Rome (AFP)

Japan's Naomi Osaka crashed out of the Italian Open on Wednesday after a 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 second round defeat to American Jessica Pegula in the clay-court warm-up ahead of Roland Garros.

The four-time Grand Slam winner, seeded second in the Italian capital, had received a first-round bye, but was unable to find her way back into the match after losing the first-set tie-break to her 31st-ranked opponent.

Osaka was playing just her third tournament since winning the Australian Open in February and also exited in the second round in Madrid earlier this month.

Osaka, the reigning US Open champion, has seven career hard-court titles, but has never managed to lift a clay-court trophy.

Pegula, 27, who reached the Australian Open quarter-finals, will next play either 33rd-ranked Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova or American 13th seed Jennifer Brady.