On her first match after five months, Naomi Osaka secured a win on the second round of the Western and Southern Open on Monday, defeating 26th-ranked Karolina Muchova in the sets of 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2 on Monday.
The match was played with no audience. Only the essential personnel were present. Masks, gloves, and sanitization were mandatory per USTA’s safety guidelines.
Naomi Osaka Reveals She Was Nervous
In the post-match interview, the fourth seed Osaka revealed that she was nervous. She was playing in the hardcourt after five months.
“I was really nervous. So I didn’t feel that free. I had a lot of doubts in my mind in the first set. In the second set, I felt more at peace with myself,” Osaka stated. “I realized that there are certain balls that I need to go for,” Osaka revealed. “I feel like I just learned a lot throughout the entire course of the match, and hopefully it’s something that I can do at a quicker time rate.”
The two-time Grand Slam champion earned the victory after long hours of play, two hours and 33 minutes of the game to be precise.
It was a slow start from both ends; however, both players found their grip in the upcoming sets.
After the win in the second set, Osaka became more calm and confident. Her game got better as she advanced with a 4-0 lead. Muchova gave a good fight. However, Osaka closed the match with her twelfth ace of the day.
“I think the difference [between winning and losing] was probably attitude,” Osaka said, during her post-match press conference. “It kind of boils down to attitude, because for me I feel like I’m more open-minded when I’m calm, so maybe if I was upset I wouldn’t have been able to apply the things that I knew I was doing wrong.”
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Osaka’s prospects in the Cincinnati
In the next round, Osaka will face Dayana Yastremska. The Ukrainian beat American Bernarda Pera in three sets.
Osaka’s chances of winning the Cincinnati Masters are looking good after Karolina Pliskova, and Sofia Kenin lost their first matches.
However, the third seed and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and Belarusian world No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka could meet Osaka in the semifinals.
In the interview, Osaka also stated that she is focusing on this tournament for the time being.
After the Western and South Open (Cincinnati Masters) is over, US Open will commence on and from 31st August in the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Centre, New York.