Defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka booked her place in the third round with a straight-sets win over Saisai Zheng. The Japanese star could face 15-year-old starlet Coco Gauff on Friday, if the American beats Sorana Cirstea.
Osaka and Zheng had to fight the elements on a blustery Margaret Court Arena which made serving incredibly difficult.,
But world No 3 Osaka showed her class by cruising to a comfortable 6-2 win in the opening set.
The second set was much more difficult as the two-time Grand Slam winner twice had to come from a break down.
Frustration spilled over once Cirstea took a 2-1 lead and Osaka uncharacteristically kicked her racket.
But the 22-year-old got over the line without needing a tiebreak or a deciding set.
“I got really fired up when she was up four and people started clapping more,” Osaka said. That’s probably the best part of the game.
“For the drama I think. I was complaining over here and was then almost throwing my racket over there.
“I don’t think I did. I just wanted to play. I have been in this position on this court before and I really didn’t want to play a third set this time.”
Osaka has never had to defend an Australian Open title before but she has experience of doing likewise at the US Open.
“I think I actually got that all out during the US Open so coming here I just think about this as a new tournament,” she explained.
“The only thing that has changed is people want to beat me more.
“I did not deal with that well after this tournament. I think of it as a nice challenge as people want to play their best against me.”
Osaka’s progression to the third round means she could race highly-rated youngster Gauff, who beat Venus Williams in round one.
Gauff takes on Romanian world No 74 Cirstea this morning and she is the favourite to make the third round.
Osaka thrashed Gauff in the same round at the US Open last season with a 6-3, 6-0 victory.
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