Australian Open: Naomi Osaka throws her racket before beating Zheng Saisai
Defending champion Naomi Osaka threw her racket, tossed a ball and kicked the racket again for good measure, before sitting for a while with a towel over her head. She sensed the crowd was looking for drama, and she gave them a little bit.
She pulled it together quickly in a swirling breeze on Margaret Court Arena, though, and beat Zheng Saisai 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the third round of the Australian Open.
On the adjoining show court at about the same time, 2019 runner-up Petra Kvitova held her composure when she faced three set points before winning 13 of the next 15 points to beat Paula Badosa 7-5, 7-5.
Both of last year’s finalists had secured spots in the third round before some of the women hadn’t completed their first-round matches in the singles draw. A backlog caused by heavy rain on Day 1, caused a further spillover on Day 2.
On Day 3, the lineup on the show courts was full of major winners. French Open champion and No. 1-seeded Ash Barty had the second match on Rod Laver, the center court.
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Osaka was unimpressed with her performance.
“I hope you guys like the tennis that’s coming after my match,” third-seeded Osaka told the crowd in an on-court interview, “because it wasn’t that pretty.”
She had her service broken three times, including the one in the second set that caused a minor tantrum.
“I got really fired up when she was up and people started clapping more,” Osaka said. Asked what the crowd was clapping for, she said: “For the drama. I was complaining here, I was almost throwing my racket over there.”
Osaka won back-to-back majors at the U.S. Open in 2018 and Australia last year. She was unable to successfully defend her U.S. title, and is using that as a learning experience here to counteract any nerves.
“I got that all out during the U..S Open. Coming here, I think about it as a new tournament,” she said. “The only thing that has changed is maybe people want to beat me more.”
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One of those is two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, who had a comeback run at Melbourne Park last year before losing the final.
She said she had a few nerves in the second round, and had some difficulty with the breeze, but was otherwise OK.
“So far it’s good. Being in the third round of a Grand Slam (means) the tournament’s not ending,” she said.
Because of suspended matches from rain on Monday, eight first-round women’s singles matches were not completed Tuesday. There were several still in progress when Osaka and Kvitova went through.
No. 14 Sofia Kenin beat qualifier Ann Li 6-1, 6-3 to reach the third round.
Sixth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas didn’t even have to go on court to get through the second round, getting a walkover when Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew from their scheduled match because of a muscle strain.
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