Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Serena crashes out in Miami as nervous Osaka advances



Serena crashes out in Miami as nervous Osaka advances

Serena Williams gestures during her first round match with Naomi Osaka at the Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, Florida on Wednesday. AFP
Serena Williams gestures during her first round match with Naomi Osaka at the Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, Florida on Wednesday. AFP

Serena crashes out in Miami as nervous Osaka advances

Serena Williams crashed out of the Miami Open in the first round on Wednesday, slumping to a straight sets defeat against Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the latest setback to the former world No1’s comeback.

Osaka, who won her first major title in Indian Wells last weekend, was superior throughout and fully deserved her 6-3, 6-2 win in just one hour and 17 minutes.

It was Williams’s fourth match and second tournament appearance since returning from 13 months of maternity leave – yet the American’s movement and inability to stay in the rallies suggested her comeback could be more arduous than expected.

The defeat was the first time Williams has lost her first match at an American hard court championship for 21 years.

Williams, 36, may have been unfairly unseeded here due to her lack of action over the past year, but could have no complaints with the defeat.

In her comeback in Indian Wells, she made it through to round three, where she fell to sister Venus in straight sets.

Taking on Osaka was always going to prove a tough task – and so it did.

Williams refused to speak to the media afterwards. The WTA and tournament will decide if she will be fined, with a potential cost expected to be about $1,000.

‘Different type of nerves’

She released a brief statement more than 90 minutes after the end of the match that read: “Every tournament is an opportunity for me to better understand the areas I need to improve to be my best.

“Naomi played a great match and I look forward to continuing my return by progressing every day.

“I am so grateful for my fans who continue to support me every step of this incredible journey.”

Osaka, though, was understandably delighted.

“I was nervous but once the match started I was OK,” said the Japanese rising star, who next faces Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, the world No4, in the second round.

“Serena is the main reason why I started playing. I have seen her on TV so many times, so for me to be playing against her, trying to detach myself from the fact I was playing Serena, was hard. It took me three games [to get over it].

“It was a different type of nerves. I have never been like that against a specific person. The final in Indian Wells was different because I had never been in that position.”

Williams looked a shadow of her former self, yet her opponent was too focused on her own game to notice any glaring deficiencies in the American’s game.

“I wasn’t paying attention if she was struggling or not,” Osaka said. “I would freak myself out if I was looking too much at her. She did hit a lot of shots which almost made me fall over and I was like ‘Wow, that’s a Serena shot.’”

Williams, an eight-time champion in Key Biscayne, started strongly and held her serve to love but it took a while for the American to find her range.

‘I think she was sad’

Osaka, 20, showed some understandable nerves but was able to stay in the game and when she broke in the seventh game, it was the perfect chance for the Japanese player to take control.

The world No22’s serve – which was being clocked at an impressive 115mph – as well as the power in her ground strokes allowed her to stretch the lead to 5-3.

Osaka was hitting the ball beautifully and broke again to take the first set with relative ease.

Osaka broke once more to make it 3-1 in the second and she never looked back, sealing the win when Williams hit an easy passing shot long.

“I think she was sad that it ended like that “ Osaka said.

“I was new to the tour when she left after the Australian Open, so to shake her hand at the end was pretty cool. She said, ‘Good job,’ but I kind of blanked out.

“It’s weird playing against someone who you’ve grown up watching. There’s a respect thing but you also want to win really bad. I just wanted her to know who I am.”

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement