Naomi Osaka survived Garbine Muguruza and two match points to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday. The third seed beat the Spaniard 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in five minutes short of the two-hour mark. It was the first meeting between the two former world no.
1s and the match, when it began, lived up to the expectations surrounding it. Powerful shot-making was the theme of the day and both women struck the ball hard and fast, from the get-go.
Australian Open: Naomi Osaka wins maiden clash against Garbine Muguruza
Osaka gained the upper-hand in the match right away as she broke Muguruza in her opening service game, in the second game of the set.
However, Muguruza settled into the rhythm of the match, it didn’t take long for her to regain the break back. Both players continued to hold their own until the ninth game when Osaka’s serve came under pressure.
Muguruza capitalised on it and consolidated the break in the following game by clinching the set. Going into the second set, the momentum looked to be resting with Muguruza. The 2020 Australian Open finalist controlled her shots better even as Osaka struggled to time hers.
Nonetheless, as the set progressed, the younger player turned around her game while Muguruza’s became error-stricken. In the 10th game of the set, serving to stay in it, Muguruza went down 15-40. Although she saved both to bring the score to deuce, two more errors gave Osaka the set and brought on her par in the match.
As with the first two sets, the final set, too, saw palpable shifts of momentum. Muguruza started off the set by shrugging the disappointment of losing the second set and by breaking Osaka in the fifth game. The regaining of her poise was also reflected in her game which didn’t leak much errors as it did in the second set.
In the ninth game of the set, with Osaka serving to stay in the match, Muguruza brought up two match points but was unable to convert either. This game marked the final turnaround of the match. Muguruza found herself broken while serving for the match in the 10th game.
At five-all in the set, Osaka once again notched an easy service game to put Muguruza under pressure to try and prolong the match after having surrendered her lead. However, this time around, there were no comebacks left in store as the 14th seed committed three unforced errors in a row that brought up match points for Osaka.
A fourth unforced error off Muguruza’s racquet handed Osaka the win. Osaka hit 40 winners to Muguruza’s 24 but also had 36 unforced errors to the Spaniard’s 28. Of the two players, Muguruza won the most points at the net – 9 out of 12 approaches to Osaka’s one out of five approaches.
However, all three points that Muguruza lost at the net came in the deciding set. In the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, Naomi Osaka will face Su-Wei Hsieh. The 35-year-old upset the 19th seed Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 6-2 in their fourth-round match.
This is Hsieh’s first quarter-final at a Major. The 35-year-old is also the oldest player to reach the last-eight of a Major for the first time.