Miami: Naomi Osaka clinical in opener, now set for 2R blockbuster against star player

Osaka didn't give Elisabetta Cocciaretto many chances to win their Miami first-round match.

by Dzevad Mesic
Miami: Naomi Osaka clinical in opener, now set for 2R blockbuster against star player
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Naomi Osaka has made a strong start to her Miami Open return as the former world No. 1 ousted Elisabetta Cocciaretto to set up a second-round showdown against Elina Svitolina. 

In her first Miami match since losing the 2022 final at the tournament to Iga Swiatek, Osaka beat world No. 51 Cocciaretto 6-3 6-4 in a match where she served perfectly and didn't allow the Italian a single break point. Osaka, 26, and 23-year-old Cocciaretto were playing against each other for the first time. 

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Images Sport - Michael Owens

By overcoming Cocciaretto, Osaka set up a highly-anticipated Miami second-round blockbuster against 2023 Wimbledon semifinalist Svitolina, who had a first-round bye as the No. 15 seed. Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka and former world No. 3 Svitolina are now set for their seventh meeting - and a bit stunningly - their first since 2019. 

The fact that Osaka and Svitolina both made post-pregnancy returns in the last 12 months - so far their comebacks have been going well - is also something that adds intrigue to the matchup. 

How Osaka beat Cocciaretto to set up a Svitolina matchup?

Osaka came out determined to make a statement early on in her Miami return, breaking Cocciaretto in the second game en route to opening a 3-0 lead. Up 4-1 through the opening five games, Osaka kept pressing Cocciaretto but failed to go up by a double break after missing out on four break points in the sixth game. 

However, one break of serve was more than enough for Osaka to win the opener as the Japanese converted her first set point in the ninth game. In the first set, the four-time Grand Slam champion didn't face a single break point.

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

At the start of the second set, Cocciaretto was able to go through her opening two service games without a faced break point. But then, Osaka broke the Italian to love in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead in the set. Up by a set and a break, Osaka kept serving perfectly as she served her way into the second round. 

The performance against Cocciaretto should help Osaka enter the Svitolina match very motivated and confident. Against Svitolina, Osaka has a 3-3 head-to-head record. 

Naomi Osaka Elisabetta Cocciaretto