After rocking Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska, Naomi Osaka set to face more top talent at the BNP Paribas Open
Naomi Osaka’s first-round upset of Maria Sharapova in the BNP Paribas Open was one of the most memorable moments of this young tennis season. But in preparing for her second-round match against No. 31 seed Agnieszka Radwanska on Friday, Osaka tried to forget her victory over Sharapova had ever happened.
“Going into the next match, I really want to win but at the same time I don’t want to go into the match too nervous and thinking about too much the match that I played before,” she said. “So I just try to think that I didn’t play my last match and just focus on the match that I played today.”
Her strategy worked. Winning 83% of points on her first serve and piling up four service breaks, she earned a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Radwanska at Stadium 6 in front of a big crowd that loved her aggressive game and her charming personality. “I’m really grateful that people were cheering for me again,” said Osaka, who has a Haitian father and Japanese mother, grew up on Long Island, and trains in Florida. “Playing against people that you see on TV and stuff, it’s always really fun.”
Her next opponent will be American qualifier Sachia Vickery, who rallied to defeat No. 3 Garbine Muguruza of Spain, a two-time Grand Slam champion, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Vickery, 22, is from Hollywood, Fla., and is ranked No. 100 in the world. She said several times during her on-court interview after the match that she simply didn’t believe she had defeated Muguruza.
“I just tried to fight for every point and hang in there. The crowd was amazing.”
No. 9 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the final set to outlast Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, 6-7(4), 7-6 (3), 6-4 in three hours and 17 minutes, the longest Women’s Tennis Assn. match this year.
Kvitova overcame 18 double faults and a case of sunburn to extend her winning streak to 14.
Nick Kyrgios of Australia, seeded 17th, withdrew because of an elbow injury. He was replaced in the draw by lucky loser Matteo Berrettini of Italy. ... No. 1 women’s seed Simona Halep of Romania, who has been hampered by a foot problem that kept her out of the Qatar Open last month, advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic. “It was important to win this match,” Halep said. “I come back from an injury, tough injury, and I didn’t have pain. I feel good.”… Eighteen-year-old Marketa Vondrouseva of the Czech Republic upset No. 11 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain, 7-6 (7), 6-4. ….Unseeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus eliminated No. 19 Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-4,-6-3…No. 6 seed Jelena Os-tapenko of Latvia, the 2017 French Open champion, reached the third round by getting past Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen
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