Miami: World No.1 Naomi Osaka endured a rollercoaster start to the Miami Open tennis tournament here Friday and advanced to the third round with a 6-0, 6-7(3-7), 6-1 win over Belgian Yanina Wickmayer.
Osaka might have expected an easier opener against the 141st-ranked qualifier. However that did not happen. She needed more than two hours to dispose of her Belgian opponent.
“It was really hard for me, I think, emotionally in the second set because I just started thinking about winning, not exactly the things I could do in order to win,” said Osaka. “I had a bit of a dip. She was also playing really well.”
The Japanese, who had been firing on all cylinders while Wickmayer sleepwalked through a one-sided opening set, suddenly began to sputter in the second as the Belgian woke from her slumber.
Letting her foot off the gas, the Australian and US Open champion was left muttering to herself and flipping her racket as shots that had been finding their target minutes before were sprayed all over the temporary court allowing Wickmayer back into the match.
Yet just as quickly as Osaka lost her way the 21-year-old got back on track in the third set, securing the early break on her way to a 3-0 lead and a topsy-turvy victory.
Osaka will next face Taiwan’s 27th seed Hsieh Su-wei, who was a 6-2, 7-5 winner over American Alison Riske. “I consider Miami a home,” said Osaka. “I definitely always want to do well here whenever I play. But I have to do that against Hsieh also as she is a tough player to beat.