Another day, another victory for Naomi Osaka at the Miami Open

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Two days, two wins and an easy appearance.

Naomi Osaka seems to be back to being herself.

The former world No. 1 advanced to the third round of the Miami Open, easily beating 13th seed Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday. It was just as one-sided as the scoreline implied, with Osaka winning 89% of first-serve points and 61 of 100 points played in the match overall.

“It means a lot to me,” said Osaka, unranked in Miami after falling to No. 77 in the world because she has missed a lot of time to focus on her mental health in recent years. “She’s the first seeded player I’ve beaten this year.”

And when it comes to high-ranking opponents, the drought has been even longer.

Kerber is ranked 15th in the world; the last time Osaka beat a top-15 ranked player was when she was at the top of the leaderboard. 10 Serena Williams in the semi-finals of the 2021 Australian Open. Osaka won that tournament and hasn’t made a final since, but her win over Kerber – who was 4-1 against Osaka entering Thursday – l certainly made her look like a candidate from Miami.

“I came into the game really wanting to play my game,” said Osaka, who is yet to drop a set in his two matches in Miami; she beat Astra Sharma 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday. “I still have the memories of all the matches she beat me before. So yeah, I just wanted to play as well as I could. It worked.

Kerber’s loss was part of a tough day for the top-seeded players on the women’s side.

No. 18 Leylah Fernandez, No. 25 Daria Kasatkina and No. 31 Alize Cornet were all beaten on Thursday, all in straight sets. Fernandez – last year’s US Open runner-up – lost to Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 7-6(3).

Muchova, who hasn’t played since the US Open nearly seven months ago due to an abdominal injury, will face Osaka for a place in the round of 16.

“For me it was a win to play and compete again,” Muchova said.

Cornet lost to Alison Riske of the United States 6-2, 6-2 and Kasatkina fell to Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 7-6 (5), 6-4.

No. 9 seed Danielle Collins of the United States escaped a surprise as she held off Anna Bondar of Hungary 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. The No. 8 seed Ons Jabeur of another winner, beat Poland’s Magda Linette 7-6(1), 6-2.

Among the men’s winners was Sebastian Korda of the United States, who advanced to the quarter-finals in Miami last year. He beat Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-1, 6-1 in a first-round match, leaving the court in just over an hour on a summer day in South Florida.

“I’m a Florida boy,” Korda said. “I like humidity. Heat and humidity, those are my two favorite things. I just play really good tennis with them.

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