MELBOURNE – Japanese fourth seed Naomi Osaka swept past Tamara Zidansek in straight sets to reach the Australian Open third round Thursday as she targets a second Grand Slam title.
The US Open champion defeated the unseeded Slovenian 6-2, 6-4 to set up an all-Asian clash with Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan in the next round.
The 21-year-old struggled to close out the match after a strong start but always looked in control against the world number 78.
“I thought I served alright, this was my first time playing her and I'm just happy to win to be honest,” Osaka said.
She anticipated a tough test against Hsieh, who she defeated in their only previous meeting.
“She's been playing really well recently so I just hope that it's exciting,” she said.
Osaka was in no mood to hang around after rain delayed the start of play as the roof on Margaret Court Arena was closed.
She broke Zidansek in the first game, only to allow the Slovenian to get back on level terms in the fourth with a string of unforced errors.
It proved a minor wobble, with Osaka restoring her advantage with a lob that left Zidansek flat footed, then claiming another break before serving out the set in 28 minutes.
The second set was tighter as Osaka uncharacteristically struggled on serve, double faulting as Zidansek went up a break.
But she made amends in the next game and saw off two break points from Zidansek before bringing up two match points on serve.
Osaka netted a forehand return on the first one but Zidansek could not handle the power of her second, hitting it into the crowd to hand the Japanese player victory.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)