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Sport Naomi Osaka survives scare from Garbiñe Muguruza, progresses to Australian Open quarter finals

06:10  14 february  2021
06:10  14 february  2021 Source:   msn.com

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Naomi Osaka has survived a massive scare on Rod Laver Arena, coming from a set down to beat last year's finalist Garbiñe Muguruza 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 to advance to the Australian Open quarter finals.

The three-time grand slam winner survived two match points on her own serve in the third set, before breaking back as Muguruza served for the match.

In a high-quality match that built in intensity throughout, Osaka won the final game to love to avoid the upset and extend her winning run to 18 matches.

"I feel like today I didn't know what to expect because I have never played her before," Osaka told Channel 9 after the match.

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"I just knew it was going to be tough. I am kind of tired right now."

Both Osaka, 2019 Australian Open champion, and two-time grand slam winner Muguruza, had breezed through their opening three matches at Melbourne Park, with this contest the first real test of their campaigns.

"I feel like I was a bit intimidated because I knew she was playing really well coming into this match," Osaka said.

Osaka didn't appear intimidated, breaking Muguruza in just the second game of the match, but was pegged back immediately by the 27-year-old number 14 seed, who broke again in the ninth game to be the first player to take a set off Osaka in this year's tournament.

The error-strewn performance of the first set — Osaka made 14 unforced errors to Muguruza's six in the opener — was replaced with a far more conservative, safety-conscious display in the second.

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The three-time grand slam winner was broken again right at the start of the second set but fought back in the fourth game to level things up before breaking again with Muguruza serving to stay in the set.

This was the first women's match to go the distance on Rod Laver Arena at this year's Open, and it remained a battle to the very end.

Osaka looked to be in control early in the decider, earning a break point on Muguruza's second service game of the set.

But it was Osaka who was broken first, saving one break point but surrendering serve with her third double fault of the match.

From then, Osaka looked to be battling her own demons, showing rare bursts of emotion as she remonstrated with herself.

Osaka came close to breaking back in the eighth game of the set, but the second of three aces from Muguruza helped save the break point, and a stunning winner down the line sealed the game to leave her one away from the quarter finals.

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A fourth double fault from Osaka handed Muguruza the advantage and a loose shot meant the Spaniard had two match points, which Osaka had to dig deep to save.

That scare appeared to spur Osaka on — she did not make another unforced error all match, breaking back to make it 5-5 as Muguruza attempted to serve out the match.

Osaka will face Taiwan's 35-year-old veteran Hsieh Su-Wei, who shocked 19th seed Marketa Vondrusova 6-4, 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena.

"She is going to be really tough," Osaka said of Hsieh. "I feel like whenever I play her, I have to expect everything.

"I played her, like, two years ago here. It is actually fun when I am not really angry."

Hsieh is ranked 71 in the world and will be playing in her first ever grand slam quarter final in what is her 38th appearance in the main draw of the tournament.


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