A ripple of excitement spread through every tennis fan as Naomi Osaka and Garbine Muguruza played against one another. In their first-ever career battle, the former World No. 1’s fought for a quarterfinals spot at the Australian Open 2021. And after more than an hour of prime-time tennis, the Japanese star hurdled down her opponent 6-4, 4-6, 5-7.
Undoubtedly, they both deserved to go ahead in the tournament. But since tennis demands only one winner, it all came down to who played better on the given day.
To get the proceedings on, last year’s runner-up in the tournament, Muguruza won the toss and decided to receive first. Consequently, the 2019 Australian Open champion Osaka won the first game with two powerful aces.
Muguruza puts young-gun Osaka on a backseat
The 23-year-old started positively, breaking Muguruza’s first serve of the match. But the Spaniard recovered her loss quickly, held her next serve, and leveled the opening set at 2-2.
Following that, both players maintained their success on the serve. While Osaka hit some clean and beautiful winners, the 2-time Grand Slam champion led with big hits.
However, in the 9th game, Muguruza got a break as a result of her discipline. On the other side, the Japanese superstar did not look settled into the match, and her opponent capitalized on the same.
Serving for the first set, the 27-year-old Spaniard started hitting the gears up. Resultantly, Muguruza took the first set away from the 3-time Grand Slam champion. The score: 6-4 in favor of the Spaniard.
Naomi fights her way back into the match
Continuing with her rhythm, Muguruza broke the Japanese’s first serve coming in the second set. However, breaking back again, Osaka pushed herself back into the match.
From here on out, the intensity of the match only fired up. Naomi, who was trailing a set, needed to shake the formidable spirit of her opponent. Meanwhile, the Spaniard’s passion was on full display and gave nothing away to the Japanese superstar.
At 4-4 in the second set, the reigning US Open champion held her serve with an ace, with a game away from the second set. And she secured the second set with an unreturnable groundstroke close to the line. Naomi fights back: 6-4, 4-6.
The final battle between Naomi Osaka and Garbine Muguruza
To book a spot against Taiwanese professional Hsieh Su-wei, Osaka and Muguruza battled ferociously in the decider set. However, it was the Japanese player who found herself committing easy but very costly mistakes.
Frustrated with herself, Osaka banged the racket on the court but couldn’t save the inevitable break. Yet again, the composure and quality of the Spaniard came to be the differentiator between the two. Muguruza leading at 3-2.
As a final fight, the Japanese saved two match points, asking the Spaniard to serve for the match. Finally, Osaka found her nerves in the right place; she took the lead 5-6 in the final set.
Serving to stay in the match, Muguruza lost control for the first time and it cost her the seat in the Last 16. And the way the Japanese star picked herself up when she was down is the reason why she has won three major tournaments.
Conclusively, in the battle of nerves, the 3rd seed came through and will continue her journey at the Australian Open 2021.
However, losing only two sets (against Osaka) throughout the tournament, the Spaniard will look to carry forward her performance throughout the 2021 season.
Can Naomi win her fourth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open this year?
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