Osaka Ups Win Streak To 22; Azarenka v Kerber Sat. In Miami
by Staff | March 27th, 2021, 10:18 am
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Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka returned to the courts Friday in Miami and kept her winning ways. In her first match since Melbourne, the 23-year-old edged out Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6(3), 6-4 to up her current win streak to 22.

Osaka, who was broken twice, was aided by 13 aces. The Australian also served for the first set.

“I would say what I’m most proud of today, just being able to handle my nerves. I guess be able to finish it in two sets,” said Osaka. “I think the conditions here are very different from Australia and from LA where I was practicing before I came here. Just being able to adjust quickly and learn throughout the match.”

Osaka will now meet qualifier Nina Stojanovic who upset Yulia Putintseva.

While Osaka is the clear tournament favorite, many peg Garbine Muguruza as the second choice and the former No. 1 rolled into the third round with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Xinyu Wang.

“I was actually looking forward to play and also quite nervous, because this is a tournament that I love,” Muguruza said. “After playing well in the Middle East swing, I just wanted to keep the same energy and the same quality of tennis.

“I was kind of nervous out there. It was actually very windy, so that makes it very tricky.”

Elise Mertens, Karolina Pliskova, Maria Sakkari and Bianca Andreescu were also winners. Kiki Bertens was upset.

It was a mixed day for the Americans. Sofia Kenin survived an upset bid from Andrea Petkovic to win it 6-7(6), 6-1, 6-3. It was her first match since having her appendix removed in Melbourne, which she explained.

“There was no discomfort at all, which was like so strange,” she reflected. “I woke up and I felt my stomach hurting. I thought it was cramps. It wasn’t obviously.

“On that day it was really all of a sudden. I didn’t have anything leading up where I know, okay, I have this. That’s what everybody kept saying, this is really strange. I was, like, yeah, this is just my luck, I guess.”

Former champion Sloane Stephens fell to compatriot Amanda Anisimova 6-3, 6-3. Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady had high hopes but cramping and the streaking Sara Sorribes Tormo got the better of her as the Spaniard pulled the upset 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. And Jessica Pegula kept her form beating Storm Sanders 6-3, 6-4.

The third round begins on Saturday with 2-time champion Victoria Azarenka colliding with former No. 1 Angelique Kerber. Azarenka leads 8-1 over the German.

“So there are a lot of matches against Vika in the past, so I know it’s another hard battle against her,” Kerber said on Thursday. “But this is why I’m here and to try to play good matches against the best players.

“I’m looking forward and try to of course playing, yeah, like I played today and also like I played the last few days here in Miami. It will be a good match.”

Ash Barty returns to face Jelena Ostapenko in a battle of former French Open winners. Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova are also in action.

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