World no. 3 and the Gippsland Trophy 2nd seed Naomi Osaka had to dig deep against Katie Boulter in the third round. The Japanese lost the opening set and had to battle hard from the second to break the rival's resistance and advance into the last eight.
Boulter stole the Japanese's thrice and led 6-3, 3-4 before Naomi shifted into a higher gear to rattle off eight of the last nine games and score a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 triumph. Osaka said that it was a real test of her current game ahead of the Australian Open, thrilled to end on the winning side.
"I wanted to fight as hard as I can after losing the opening set. Katie played excellent tennis, and I thought that if I lost at the end of the day, it's okay, but I still wanted to give my best effort. I like playing long matches because I feel like I can gauge the court condition and that my fitness gets better.
I played a short match yesterday, so subconsciously, I felt like I needed to play a long one today. I couldn't have asked for a better preparation encounter ahead of the Australian Open. I think it was very different from my first-round clash; I can't practice a match like this.
So I'm thrilled with how it went.
Naomi Osaka spoke about her third-round clash against Katie Boulter.
Even though it was long, I think there are many things that I learned in this match. I felt that I was on my back foot for the entire first set and halfway into the second.
I felt like I was letting her dictate most of the balls, and I never really settled. In the second and third set, I found what I needed to do and imposed my pace onto the rally. I was calmer after losing the first set because I felt like I wanted to play well for myself.
The biggest concern for me in the first set was winning or losing. But after not playing that well, I just wanted to compete and hopefully push her to a third. That was my biggest goal in the second, and I was able to do that. I just tried to keep it rolling," Naomi Osaka said.