In the blockbuster first-round match that took place in the fourth match on the Stadium of the Miami Open, we saw Naomi Osaka of Japan claim her eighth straight win as she moved past her idol and the greatest tennis player of all Serena Williams of the United States 6-3, 6-2. There is no doubting that this was nowhere near the top level of Williams as she was making a lot of basic errors and after that focus that she started with wore off, she was definitely the inferior player out on the court but that is understandable considering she has only played one other event in the past fifteen months. Osaka played this match with perfect tactics as she moved Williams around the court and continually put her in uncomfortable situations which made it especially hard considering the number of errors Williams was hitting as it is.
The start was not too bad from Serena Williams as she looked laser-focused and that showed as she held to love with four really strong first serves to close out the opening game. There were nerves from Naomi Osaka to start as she was hitting few first serves in and Williams was putting the foot down and crunching her second serve return opportunities. Osaka managed to save a break point in her opening service game and then we saw some vulnerability from Williams when she was returning at 2-1 and hit four bad unforced errors to throw away the game. She did manage to get through her service game proceeding that but then at 3-3, Osaka’s started to shake off those nerves and hit deep flat returns and Williams just did not have the touch to get a lot of them back as she was broken before Osaka consolidated for 5-3. With Williams serving to stay in the set she did lift her level but so did Osaka as the Japenese number one managed to raise her game and really outhit Williams to recover from 40-0 before breaking to take the 6-3 opener in great fashion.
It looked like the second set might fall away from Serena Williams quickly from the first game as Naomi Osaka breezed through her serve and then looked to be the more convincing player in Williams’ first service game as she held break point before the American saved it to get it to 1-1. We saw one of the only off games from Osaka there as she hit quite a few errors to set up a Williams break point but after that was saved, Osaka snapped right back into it and broke with some superb forehands as she took a 3-1 lead. By this stage of the match, Williams really had no rhythm and we weren’t seeing any clear body of good play but rather flashes of brilliance. As Osaka drew closer to victory, the nerves were there as she hit quite a few errors to give Williams a hold from 4-1 but then she relied on some big serves to put herself a game away. One of the worst games of the match was that final game as Williams was all over the place, which is demonstrated in the match point as she handed the break and, by virtue, the match to Osaka.