Osaka Makes Perfect Start At Miami Open With A Dominant Serving Performance

Osaka Makes Perfect Start At Miami Open With A Dominant Serving Performance

by Jordan Reynolds

Naomi Osaka showed glimpses of her best level during a comfortable first-round victory at the Miami Open against Elisabetta Cocciaretto.

It has been very interesting to observe the former world No. 1's comeback to the WTA Tour. There have been highs and lows so far for the Japanese star, with the level of her game often fluctuating.

Her tournament last week in Indian Wells demonstrated this perfectly. Osaka played outstandingly to triumph against the 14th seed Liudmila Samsonova and it seemed like she could go far in California.

However, this was followed by a straight sets defeat in the next round. Osaka's serve let her down against Elise Mertens, which was the biggest reason for that disappointing defeat.

The four-time Grand Slam champion was looking to put that frustration behind her against Cocciaretto. She did this in impressive style, with her Italian opponent ultimately unable to keep up with her despite fighting hard.

After her serving struggles against Mertens in Indian Wells, Osaka utterly dominated on serve throughout the match. In the opening set, she dropped just five points during her service games.

That outstanding serving took the pressure off on her return games. Osaka broke in the second game of the contest with some sharp returning and hitting that caught Cocciaretto off-guard.

Despite the Italian admirably saving four break points in a subsequent return game, that one break was all Osaka needed to easily take the opening set 6-3 after a really clean set of tennis from her.

Osaka continued her sublime serving performance in the second set by dropping just six points on serve. Cocciaretto could not attempt to impose her baseline game on Osaka as she was getting no chances to build pressure due to Osaka's serving.

Once again, only one break was needed for Osaka. This came in the fifth game, when Cocciaretto broke to love after some erratic hitting from the Italian. Her body language after losing serve made it clear she knew how tough it would be to get back into the match after that.

Osaka served out the match comfortably to seal a 6-3 6-4 victory. This was undoubtedly one of the four-time Grand Slam champion's strongest performances since returning to the sport this season.


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