Naomi Osaka puts aside Indian Wells heckling, wins Miami opener

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Black Friday

After a traumatic heckling incident that accelerated her exit from Indian Wells, Naomi Osaka got back to competition at the very next tournament and eased through her first-round match at the Miami Open.

Naomi Osaka

Facing world No.96 Astra Sharma of Australia, who was making her main-draw debut at the Miami Open, the four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka won 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 20 minutes.

Osaka never faced a break point against Sharma, owing to her impressive serve stats — she lost just two points behind her first serve and six behind her second delivery.

Even though her previous match brought tears to her eyes, the emotional Japanese seems to have toughened up. Here’s what she said after her Miami opener, her 50th match win at a WTA 1000 tournament:

I didn’t want to let anything bother me, no matter what happened. The last match I played was not the greatest memory for me. I wanted to prove that I could come back out here and compete, and no matter if I won or lost, to just know that I had the best attitude I could.

In the second round, Osaka will play three-time major champion and fellow former world No.1 Angelique Kerber. Down to No.77 in the WTA rankings, Osaka is unseeded in Miami, while Kerber is seed No.13. Kerber leads their head-to-head 4-1. Their last encounter was in 2018, at the WTA Finals.

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