Miami Open: Naomi Osaka powers into the second round

Naomi Osaka

Japan’s Naomi Osaka breezed into the second round of the Miami Open with a comprehensive straight sets win over Australian Astra Sharma on Wednesday.

Osaka had endured a tough loss in Indian Wells 10 days ago, breaking down in tears after being heckled in the stands following a defeat to Veronika Kudermetova.

The four-time Grand Slam champion, who had time away from tennis in 2021 to deal with mental health issues, showed tremendous poise at the to beat world no 96 Sharma 6-3 6-4 to move on in Miami.

The win was Osaka’s 50th at WTA 1000 level.

Osaka said that her Indian Wells exit motivated her to bounce back.

“The last match I played wasn’t the greatest memory for me,” Osaka said during an on-court interview after her win at the Hard Rock Stadium.

“I just wanted to prove I could come back out here, compete and have the best attitude I could.”

Osaka served well to give Sharma no opening in their match.

The two-time Australian Open champion lost just two points on her first serve and six behind her second.

It was no easy win though as Osaka found it tough to convert break points, clinching just two of the 11 Sharma offered up.

Osaka faces Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the next round. The two women have a storied history but the German has edged their rivalry.

Her win over Kerber at the 2017 US Open was Osaka’s first over a top ten player, but she has lost all four of their subsequent matches.

In other action on Wednesday, 16-year-old wildcard Linda Fruhvirtova routed Danka Kovinic 6-0, 6-4 in just 1 hour and 14 minutes.

Kovinic was out-manoeuvred by No.279-ranked Fruhvirtova throughout.

The result was Fruhvirtova’s first completed Top 100 victory, previously getting passed Alizé Cornet via retirement at last year’s Charleston 250.

American Madison Brengle would not entertain an upset at the hands of another 16-year-old wildcard, Alexandra Eala, as she defeated the Filipina 6-2, 6-1.

Irina-Camelia Begu roared back after losing a tight first set to beat 20-year-old wildcard Hailey Baptiste 6-7(6), 6-1, 6-1 and set up a second-round clash with No.1 seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich edged 20-year-old qualifier Wang Xinyu 7-6(6), 6-4.