Naomi Osaka appears to have found peace and quiet at the Miami Open after a rocky start to the 2022 season. The 24-year-old from Japan won in straight sets for the second day in a row, this time against 13th seed Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday. In exactly one hour, it was over. Osaka’s opponent for the next round will be Karolina Muchova.
Muchova, who was playing her first match in seven months after suffering an abdominal injury, defeated fellow Czech Tereza Martincova in a first-round match on Wednesday. Muchova followed it up with a 6-4, 7-6 victory over No.18 seed Leylah Fernandez the next day.
“She’s to me one of the most athletic players on tour,” Osaka said. “It’s going to be a really fun match I think. I know we both really want to win it.”
Due to a scheduling quirk, the Osaka-Kerber match featured the two women in the draw with the most Grand Slam singles titles, four and three, respectively. However, neither player had a good start to the year, with Kerber losing two of her first five matches and Osaka losing in the third round of the Australian Open, skipping Dubai and Doha, and losing in her second match at Indian Wells to Veronika Kudermetova.
Osaka wasted no time in seizing control of the match, breaking Kerber in the second game with a backhand winner down the line. With Kerber serving at 5-2, Osaka broke her for the second time, converting her second set point after Kerber’s forehand sailed long. The second set was more of the same, with Osaka controlling the points with deep, confident groundstrokes. When another Kerber forehand sailed long, Osaka earned her third match point.
“She’s like the first high-seeded player I’ve beaten this year,” Osaka said in her on-court interview. “I feel like I came into the match wanting to dictate. My power on the shots was working really well.”