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2021 Australian Open: Naomi Osaka escapes, eyes the quarterfinals

Date
15 February 2021
MELBOURNE, Australia –

In a round of 16 match that could have easily been a Grand Slam final between two major champions,
[3] 
Naomi Osaka (JPN) prevailed over [14] Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) in a 2-hour, 3-set match.
 
“Today I probably hit a lot of unforced errors, but I think it was something I needed to do,” said Osaka after the match.
“I couldn’t really give her any short balls because she would finish (the point).”
 
The post-match analysis was right. Osaka hit 36 unforced errors but also fired off 40 winners, 16 more than Muguruza.
 
In the first set, the pair traded an unusual five breaks, with Muguruza winning the final three games of the set to take the lead.
 
In the second set, Osaka went down 2-0, a somewhat familiar position as her 2020 US Open final.
 
The 2019 AO champion eventually won the next three games to take the lead, dropping just four points.
Neither player faced a breakpoint until 4-5 when Osaka jumped out to an early lead in Muguruza’s service game.

On her third set point, Osaka forced Muguruza into a backhand error to push the match to a decider.
 
Muguruza quickly led the third set 3-5 and created two match point opportunities at 15-40.
 
Osaka erased the first match point with her 10th ace, saved the next with a forced forehand error, and closed out the game with another ace.
 
Surviving that game swung the momentum back in Osaka’s favor.
The World No. 3 won 12 of the final 16 points to escape with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory to advance to the quarterfinals in Melbourne for the second time in her career.
 
Fast Facts
  • Osaka averaged 10 mph more on her forehand speed compared to Muguruza
  • After saving two match points, Osaka hit 7 winners in the final 22 points of the match
  • This marks Osaka’s 50th win in a major
  • She will face Su-Wei Hsieh in the quarterfinals; Osaka leads the head-to-head match-up 3-1
  • Osaka’s 3-set record in slams moves to 18-3 and 13-0 since 2018
  • Osaka has won the title each time she has reached the quarterfinals of a slam
  • Osaka’s winning streak extends to 18, with 11-straight at Grand Slams 
 
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