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Indian Wells Champion Osaka Takes Out “New “Tennis Mom ” Serena In Miami • Tennis Needs ” Maternity Leaves…”

Serena Williams of the US waves to the crowd after losing to Naomi Osaka of Japan during a first round match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 21 March 2018. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER

 

 

Indian Wells champion Osaka takes down Serena in Miami first round

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka were dealt a brutal draw at the Miami Open. It turned out to be worse for Williams.

 

In a highly-anticipated first-round showdown, Osaka ousted the former world No. 1 6-3, 6-2 on Wednesday afternoon. The recent Indian Wells champion fired seven aces an held all eight of her service games while saving to break en route to victory after just one hour and 17 minutes of play.

 

“She’s the main reason why I started playing tennis,” Osaka said of the younger Williams sister. “I have seen her on TV so many times and I have always been cheering for her, so for me to play against her and just sort of trying to detach myself a little bit from thinking that I’m playing against her and just try to think I’m playing against just a regular opponent was a little bit hard for me. Just to see her in person…because since I’m kind of new to the tour when she sort of left for that, in the Australian Open. I haven’t really seen her around a lot. So it’s kind of weird to see her not on TV for me, so to like shake her hand and stuff I thought it was pretty cool.”

 

This was not, of course, exactly the same Williams whom Osaka grew up idolizing. The 36-year-old and 23-time Grand Slam champion gave birth to her first child last summer and her comeback is in the early stages. She has not captured a title since the 2017 Australian Open.

 

“I wasn’t paying attention if she was struggling or not,” Osaka added. “I was just trying to make my balls in and stuff. Like, if you’re playing against someone that’s the greatest player, I’m not trying to look over on that side of the court too much–because I think I would freak myself out a little bit.

 

Then I would start thinking if she’s struggling, if she’s not struggling, if I should be doing this, if I should be doing that.

 

“So I just tried look on my side of the court and not think too much about what she was doing.”

 

On the men’s side on Wednesday, winners included Jared Donaldson, Benoit Paire, Vasek Pospisil, Robin Haase, Mikhail Youzhny, Jeremy Chardy, and Joao Sousa.

 

Donaldson opened the night session with an entertaining 6-3,6-4 victory over veteran Marcos Baghdatis, a match complete with impressive ball-striking and wild rallies.

 

The 21-year-old American saved all eight of the break points he faced while advancing to a showdown with Feliciano Lopez after one hour and 42 minutes.

 

Haase, meanwhile, will be the first Miami opponent for Indian Wells champion Juan Martin Del Potro.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

 

Ed Note: SERENA looks awesome. And tennis has “protected rankings” for injury time away and now needs “Maternity Leaves” with protected rankings…

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