Two days, two wins and making it look easy.
Naomi Osaka sure seems like herself again.
The former world No. 1 is through to the third round at the Miami Open, easily handling 13th-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday. It was every bit as one-sided as the score made it seem, with Osaka winning 89% of first-serve points and 61 of the 100 points played in the match overall.
“It means a lot to me,” said Osaka, unseeded in Miami after falling to No. 77 in the world because she’s missed considerable time to focus on her mental health in recent years. “She’s the first high-seeded player I’ve beaten this year.”
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And when it comes to high-ranked opponents, the drought was even longer.
Kerber is ranked 15th in the world; the last time Osaka defeated a top-15 ranked player was when she topped then-No. 10 Serena Williams in the 2021 Australian Open semifinals. Osaka went on to win that tournament and hasn’t been to a final since, but her win over Kerber — who had been 4-1 against Osaka entering Thursday — certainly made her look the part of a Miami contender.
“I went into the match just really wanting to play my game,” said Osaka, who has yet to drop a set in her two matches in Miami; she beat Astra Sharma 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday. “I still have the memories of all the matches she’s beaten me before. So yeah, I just wanted to play as well as I could. It worked out.”
Kerber’s loss was part of a tough day for seeded players on the women’s side.
No. 11 Emma Raducanu, No. 15 Elina Svitolina, No. 18 Leylah Fernandez, No. 25 Daria Kasatkina, No. 31 Alize Cornet and No. 32 Sara Sorribes Tormo were all defeated Thursday.
Olympic doubles gold medalist Katarina Siniakova of the Czech Republic needed just under three hours to beat Raducanu, the reigning U.S. Open champion, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Siniakova was nearly reduced to tears while getting worked on during a medical time-out in the first set because of an upper-body injury.
“I think I just felt better as the match was going on," Siniakova said. “I was fighting in the beginning."
Svitolina, who had a number of fans wearing pro-Ukraine shirts watching her match in tribute to her homeland, lost to Britain's Heather Watson 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Fernandez — a U.S. Open finalist last year — lost to Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 7-6 (3).
Muchova, who hasn’t played since the U.S. Open nearly seven months ago because of an abdominal injury, will face Osaka for a spot in the round of 16.
“For me, it was a win to play and compete again,” Muchova said.
Cornet lost to Alison Riske of the U.S. 6-2, 6-2. Kasatkina fell to Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 7-6 (5), 6-4, and Sorribes Tormo was ousted by Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 3-6, 7-5, 6-0.
No. 9 seed Danielle Collins of the U.S. escaped the upset bug, holding off Anna Bondar of Hungary 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. No. 8 seed Ons Jabeur of another winner, getting past Poland’s Magda Linette 7-6 (1), 6-2.
Among the men’s winners was Sebastian Korda of the U.S., who made the quarterfinals at Miami last year. He rolled past Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain 6-1, 6-1 in a first-round match, getting off the court in just over an hour on a summer-like day in South Florida.
“I’m a Florida boy,” Korda said. “I love the humidity. Heat and humidity, those are my two favorite things. I just play some really good tennis in them.”
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