Miami, Mar 26 (efe-epa).- Japanese world No. 2 Naomi Osaka has had little success to date at the Miami Open, but she got off to a strong start at this year’s event with a hard-fought 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 victory Friday afternoon over Ajla Tomljanovic.
The four-time Grand Slam champion has never advanced past the third round of this WTA Premier Mandatory hard-court tournament, but the winner of last month’s Australian Open said before the start of the event that she has her eyes on the title and that ambition showed against a difficult opponent.
In the first set, the 77th-ranked Australian went up a service break on two occasions and had a chance to serve out the opener at 5-4, but strong returning by Osaka enabled her to break at love and even up the contest.
The 23-year-old Osaka, who was born in Japan to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother but learned her tennis on courts near Miami, took control in the tiebreaker by imposing her serve and forehand.
To Tomljanovic’s credit, she refused to fade away in the second set and stayed even with Osaka until the ninth game, when a double fault on break point caused her to drop serve and fall behind 5-4.
The world No. 2 then had to fight off a break point in the final game but held on to extend her current winning streak to 22 matches.
“I think for me today, I served really well when I needed to,” Osaka was quoted as saying by the WTA Tour’s website. “Unfortunately I got broken a couple of times, but I think when it really, really mattered I was able to serve well, so I’m happy with that.”
Next up for Osaka in the round of 32 will be 95th-ranked Serbian Nina Stojanovic, who rallied to defeat Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 on Friday.
In men’s action Friday at the Miami Open (part of the ATP Tour Masters 1000 circuit), top-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev cruised into the third round by defeating Chinese Taipei’s Lu Yen-hsun 6-2, 6-2, but third-seeded German Alexander Zverev was upset by Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori 1-6, 6-3, 6-1. EFE-EPA