Home Tennis Naomi Osaka cruises past Astra Sharma in first round of Miami Open

Naomi Osaka cruises past Astra Sharma in first round of Miami Open


MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Naomi Osaka was greeted by some cheers when she walked onto the court docket, then received considerably louder ones when her work for the day was performed.

Perhaps the comforts of house helped.

Flashing the extent of play that vaulted her to No. 1 on the earth not too way back, Osaka had little bother in defeating Astra Sharma of Australia 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday — the primary full day of play on the Miami Open.

Osaka is Japanese-born, calls California house now, however spent a lot of her youth in South Florida, principally just some miles north of the place the Miami Open is now held.

“I kind of consider this like my home tournament,” Osaka mentioned, earlier than her phrases received drowned out by extra cheers and applause from followers. “This is the tournament that I loved coming to once a year. I’m just really happy to be back out here.”

It was Osaka’s first match since a March 12 loss at Indian Wells, the place she was rattled by a derogatory shout from a spectator. If any comparable ideas have been expressed by the followers who have been watching Wednesday in a largely empty stadium court docket constructed over the sector the place the NFL’s Miami Dolphins play soccer, they both have been ignored or unnoticed.

“Honestly, for me, I just didn’t want to let anything bother me today no matter what happened,” Osaka mentioned. “The last match that I played was not the greatest memory for me.”

That is when somebody determined to yell from the stands: “We love you!”

Osaka certainly appreciated that sentiment.

She revealed Wednesday that she started seeing a therapist after Indian Wells — “it only took like a year after French Open,” she quipped, referring to how she missed the clay-court Grand Slam occasion to give attention to her psychological well being final 12 months — and that she was bracing to listen to heckling.

“I’m glad that I have people around me that told me to go in that direction,” Osaka mentioned. “I was basically just remembering all the things that she told me to do, just to take deep breaths and reset myself when I need to.”

Osaka will subsequent face No. 13 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany — like Osaka, one other former world No. 1 — within the second spherical. Kerber, like all 32 seeds within the 96-player singles discipline, had a bye out of the primary spherical. Kerber is 4-1 head-to-head towards Osaka.

Osaka improved to 7-2 this 12 months, not counting a walkover loss at Melbourne in early January when she withdrew from an Australian Open warm-up occasion with an belly harm.

She’s ranked No. 77 on the earth largely as a result of she hasn’t entered many occasions up to now 12 months, although amongst energetic gamers — if Ashleigh Barty is not thought-about one after her surprising retirement announcement — Osaka is the newest to carry the No. 1 rating. Barty supplanted her within the high spot on Sept. 9, 2019, and has held that rating since.

Osaka has brazenly talked about combating melancholy and dealing on her psychological well being since successful the 2018 US Open over Serena Williams. She withdrew from final 12 months’s French Open to are likely to her psychological well being, left final 12 months’s US Open in tears and was dropped at tears once more by the remark from a spectator at Indian Wells earlier this month.

“I just wanted to prove that I could come back out here and compete,” Osaka mentioned.

Sharma entered ranked 96th on the earth and fell to 3-8 in singles matches this 12 months, with two of these wins coming in qualifying rounds.

In one other match of word Wednesday, Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania topped Hailey Baptiste of the U.S. 6-7 (6), 6-1, 6-1 to earn a second-round matchup towards girls’s No. 1 seed Aryna Sabalenka.

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