US Open champion Naomi Osaka extends her winning streak to 13 matches but only after riding out a stiff challenge from Katie Boulter to beat the Briton 3-6 6-3 6-1 and reach the quarter-finals of the Gippsland Trophy; Johanna Konta falls to Irina-Camelia Begu as Dan Evans opens with a win
Britain’s Katie Boulter gave a great account of herself but could not stop Naomi Osaka from extending her winning streak to 13 matches at the Gippsland Trophy on Wednesday.
Boulter beat teenage American Coco Gauff in the second round of the Australian Open warm-up and another upset looked on the cards when she matched her Japanese opponent’s power-hitting to take the opening set on Margaret Court Arena.Sponsored link
The second-seeded Osaka, who won the Australian Open in 2019, raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set but the 24-year-old Briton would not fold and had break points of her own.
But Osaka upped her return game considerably to wrestle back the momentum and level up the match before running away with the third set and sealing a 3-6 6-3 6-1 win.
Osaka will face Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu in the quarter-finals after she upset fifth seed Johanna Konta 4-6 7-6 (12-10) 7-6 (7-4), with the world No 79 pushing the Briton for three-and-a-half hours.
“After I lost the first set I thought I just want to fight as hard as I can,” said Osaka, who is playing her first WTA tournament since securing her second Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows in September.
“She was playing really amazing and I thought ‘if I lose okay, but I have to give it my best shot’. I like to play long matches, and I played a short match yesterday so maybe I made myself play a long match today.”
Top two seeds Ashleigh Barty and Sofia Kenin overcame steep challenges to reach the quarter-finals of the Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne and keep their Australian Open preparations on course.
World No 1 Barty showed no signs of fatigue from having played a late match on Tuesday and started in top gear against Marie Bouzkova at the Margaret Court Arena before winning 6-0 4-6 6-3.
“Coming off a night match, I had to get used to going to bed quite late again,” Barty, who hit 42 winners to her opponent’s 17, said.
“I’m an early riser, so I didn’t get a hell of a lot of sleep last night, but it’s fantastic to be back out here.
“It was a really solid match. I felt like I pressed a little bit in the middle and lost my execution, but I’m glad to have won and get another opportunity to play tomorrow.”
The 2019 French Open champion will next face American Shelby Rogers, who ousted Croatia’s Petra Martic 7-6 (7-1) 6-3.
Australian Open champion Kenin appeared to be heading for the exit door against fellow American Jessica Pegula when she fell 3-0 back after losing the first set but the feisty 22-year-old found her range and rallied for a 5-7 7-5 6-2 win.
Third seed Elina Svitolina also came from behind to see off Jelena Ostapenko 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-2 to set up a date with Belgian Elise Mertens.
Dan Evans progressed to the third round of the Murray River Open with a straight-sets victory over Portugal’s Pedro Sousa as the world No 33.
The eighth seed, who received a bye in the first round, dispatched the 108th-ranked player 6-3 7-5 at Melbourne Park, where he will next meet Marcos Giron after the Canadian defeated France’s Adrian Mannarino 6-3 6-4.
Elsewhere in Melbourne, Heather Watson made an early exit at the Grampians Trophy as she lost 6-2 6-2 in her opening round match against the 36th-ranked Russian Veronika Kudermetova.
Watson only left hotel quarantine on Friday and said prior to the tournament she was “not putting a lot of pressure on myself” as she focuses on the Australian Open.