It was a show for everyone when the 20-year-old Haitian/Japanese and the 30-year old Russian came together in their first time meeting. Naomi Osaka sometimes can be a bit harsh on herself but it wasn't much she could downgrade on her performance this opening round at Indian Wells.
Naomi Osaka on many occasions has a flip-flop type of game where at moments she steamrolls her opponents and then later she gets unforced errors and the competitor crushes her. In her first round with Maria Sharapova, the Japanese wasn't crushed a bit but chose to dismantle and did so matter-of-factly.
Osaka's serve was sizzling and even the Tennis Channel commentator/former WTA player Lindsay Davenport commented that "Not a lot of players on the WTA can hit that serve". Osaka would routinely serve Sharapova wide and then powerhouse the open court.
Mary Carillo had mentioned about Osaka's game that "11 minutes in and she's already up 3-love". It wasn't that Sharapova played horribly, but only that the young Japanese played so well. She had totally dismantled Sharapova's rhythm-rallied game that often the Russian would just let the balls steam past her.
It was at the 4th game that Osaka's serves were wizzing in and then her forehand was starting to sting the once iconic Sharapova. But it was Osaka's dominance that brought the match to 4-1 in 20 minutes, not giving the Russian a chance to set up any shot.
The set did turn around and Osaka started making many unforced errors helping Sharapova to spin off three more games making the score 4-all. It wasn't long before the first set was finished in 45 mnutes with an Osaka win of 6-4.
The second set Osaka had settled down and her serves were more consistently piercing. If the first serve didn't get in the second one was electrifying. Sharapova continued to try gaining her composure and rhythm, and at times she was serving payback to the young Japanese.
But soon she was looking weary and frustrated from not recovering her rhythm and style of play which had taken her through many WTA titles. Points came for Osaka and went for Sharapova with soon the Japanese 20-year-old had racked up another few games and won her first round opener against a veteran icon 6-4, 6-4.
"I wanted to do well here not just because I won this event a couple of times...it is just not going to happen this year", Sharapova said. This victory leads everyone to wonder if Naomi Osaka can remain a threat to many on the WTA tour and this loss on Sharapova's side has some scratching their heads if the new Sharapova who is trying to stay consistent on her comeback is actually clean now from the supposed medicines she'd been convicted of taking which resulted in a failed drug test.