After one hour and forty three minutes Naomi Osaka’s chances of winning the Australian Open looked slim, 15 minutes later three time major champion knocked out Garbine Muguruza in their first meeting together.
How did she turn it around?
In the preview I said Naomi will find joy off her forehand and moving Muguruza about. The Spaniard deserves heaps of credit for her performance but that movement into the forehand was a problem.
I remember when she first burst onto the scene and beat Serena at Roland Garros she kept the ball central and deep not allowing Serena to create an angle. Muguruza is at her best in my opinion when she has time and can step into the court. When pushed around the errors come and Naomi did that perfectly well.
Osaka down match point thinks, its now or never. The forehand hooked out wide to push Muguruza away from that central court position. The Spaniard is on the stretch and doesn’t attack well on the stretch so going up the line to a narrower part of the court won’t happen so it is cross-court but because she is stretching she over cooks it and Naomi gets out of trouble.
Muguruza leading 5-4 but Naomi with a break point, she played perfect. From 3-5 it was playstation tennis from the former number one. Once again she got Muguruza moving and knew that ball on the run was coming cross court and killed it at the net to level the match at 5-5.
The next game, a similar way to seal the set with that backhand pushed up and close to the line and then Muguruza’s last service game got messy and the error brought an entertaining one hour and fifty five minutes to a conclusion which looked unlikely but four games in fifteen minutes sealed a big win!
Naomi has now won 18 matches in a row excluding two walk-overs she conceded in Cincinnati and last week in an Australian Open warm-up and will want to keep her run going against Hsieh Su-Wei.