Miami | Swiatek survives Noskova, as Gauff and Pegula advance and Garcia ousts Osaka

World No 1 Iga Swiatek held her nerve to fight past Linda Noskova in 3 sets to keep her quest for a second Sunshine Double alive at the Miami Open presented by Itaú on Sunday, while Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula also advanced to the Last 16, but Caroline Garcia got the better of Naomi Osaka and Daria Kasatkina met her match in Sorana Cirstea.

You know that I'm an over-thinker. Usually the best tactic for me is to let it go. I want to use this experience. I'm pretty sure, tomorrow, I'm going to do that, if everything goes well. Usually, also, these kind of things just settle in my head on their own. I'm just going to trust that it's going to be like that again. Iga Swiatek

After squandering a set point in the opening breaker, Swiatek had to come from behind to beat Noskova, 6-7(7) 6-4 6-4, after a 2 hour 34 minute battle in the third meeting between the two this season.

“As you can see, it’s not like we can take everything for granted,” Swiatek said later. “You can be in trouble at the early stages of the tournament. No sense to talk about Sunshine Double.

“For sure, I’m taking just experience from this match, and I know what I have to focus on little bit more, because it wasn’t, like, I felt 100 percent comfortable all the time. I mean, I thought it’s going to be easier to get used to the new conditions and new balls, but it’s been tricky today.”

The 22-year old Pole improved her head-to-head to 3-1 over the 19-year-old Czech, who, earlier this season had stunned the World No 1 in the 3rd-round of the Australian Open on her way to her first major quarter-final.

The win also improved Swiatek’s tour-leading record to 22-2 this season, while Noskova dropped to 12-6.

A day after Swiatek’s closest challenger, Aryna Sabalenka, was bundled out of the tournament, the Pole faced a real test from Noskova, who seems to have the measure of the Pole.

Noskova fought off an early Swiatek lead, wiping out a set point to win a tightly-contested first-set tiebreak.

Up 6-5 and serving in the breaker, Swiatek set up a short forehand but pushed the ball beyond the baseline with her 20th unforced error to keep Noskova in the set, and although she saved a set point with a clean backhand winner, the Czech converted on her second chance with a looping forehand that the top seed helplessly watched drop inside the sideline.

Swiatek stormed back immediately in the second, racing out to a seemingly safe 5-1 lead, but the Pole’s precision game remained shaky, and Noskova reeled off 3 games in a row before earning a break point to level for 5-5, but the Pole then saved a set point to hold, and forced the match into a decider.

Having worked hard to recover from her opening set tie-break loss and taken the match into a 3rd set, Swiatek battled through the opening games, and while Noskova escaped the return pressure, saving a break point to hold to 1-0, a double-fault at 2-2 gave the Pole her 2nd break point of the game, and she converted when a Noskova forehand flew long.

The Czech made one final push, though, and, with Swiatek serving to close out the win at 5-4, she carved out triple break point with a clean forehand winner.

The World No 1 responded with class, striking 3 winners of her own to get to deuce, and then closed out the match on her 1st match point, celebrating with a fist-pump to her box.

“You know that I’m an over-thinker,” Swiatek said. “Usually the best tactic for me is to let it go. I want to use this experience.

“I’m pretty sure, tomorrow, I’m going to do that, if everything goes well. Usually, also, these kind of things just settle in my head on their own. I’m just going to trust that it’s going to be like that again.”

Swiatek faces a quick turn-around, as she takes on 14th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in the Round of 16 on Monday, the Russian having advanced with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 win over her compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.


Coco Gauff came from behind to beat Oceane Dodin in just 64 minutes in Miami

© Brennan Asplen/Getty Images

Reigning US Open champion Coco Gauff was down 4-2 in the first set to France’s Oceane Dodin before winning 10 straight games, and running out a 6-4 6-0 winner in just 64 minutes.

Gauff has now won 22 of her last 23 matches on home soil, dating back to her Washington title run last July, with her only loss in this stretch coming at the hands of Maria Sakkari in the Indian Wells semi-finals last week.

The 20-year old American will bid to make her first Miami quarter-final against the No 23 seed, Caroline Garcia, after the Frenchwoman edged former World No 1 Naomi Osaka, 7-6(4) 7-5, to advance to the Last 16.

“She’s tough. We all know how she plays. Takes the ball super early, plays very aggressive,” Gauff said of Garcia. “I think, for me, it’s going to be important that I just, kind of, stick to my game, and get the ball deep in the court, and not let her run me around on the court.”

Gauff and Garcia had split their 4 prior meetings, with their last duel coming at the 2022 WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas, and this contest between them was a high-quality, hard-hitting affair, featuring 16 aces from Osaka and 12 from Garcia.


Caroline Garcia defeated Naomi Osaka for the second time this year in a very tight contest on Sunday

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Garcia saved 3 of the 4 break points against her, while Osaka fended off 7 of 9 in what was their 3rd meeting this year, Garcia now having won 2 of them.

The World No 27 had lost 5 of 6 matches heading into Miami, while Osaka spent 15 months away from the tour and gave birth to daughter Skai.

The Japanese is now 7-6 in matches, while the highlight of her Miami campaign was a straight-sets win over No 15 seed Elina Svitolina.

Osaka won 2 of 3 matches in her past 3 events, but that falls short of the standard she set as a 4-time Grand Slam champion, and, at Indian Wells, she lost a 3rd-round match to Elise Mertens in straight sets.

“I truthfully really hated my last performance there,” Osaka said. “I think I wasn’t playing like myself, and I wasn’t dictating the point. I feel like there are certain things that make a player a player.

“For me, it’s dictating the points and having a great serve. Those two things obviously weren’t done well in that match. I just want to have progression and I want to go out like myself, even if I win or lose.”

It was more of the same against Garcia, though, and, in the end, Osaka lost her composure as well as the match.

In fact, Osaka did well to reach the first-set tiebreak, saving 3 set points.

Serving at 5-6, she fell into a love-30 hole, and responded with a pair of aces, but then her forehand went off, and Garcia’s forehand winner, followed by a raised fist, sealed the opener.

Osaka was leading 4-2 in the second when Garcia broke back, when the Frenchwoman called for the trainer, who worked on her right shoulder.

With Osaka serving at 5-all, Garcia forced 2 break points, converting the second with yet another winner off a second serve, and ended it with an emphatic overhead.

It had been a hard-hitting match with the pair sharing 28 aces.

Osaka has indicated that she will play for Japan in its Billie Jean King Cup qualifying tie against Kazakhstan next month in Tokyo, which will be her first appearance in the women’s team event, formerly known as the Federation Cup, since February 2020.


Jessica Pegula saw off Leylah Fernandez in straight sets to meet Emma Navarro in the Last 16

© Al Bello/Getty Images

5th-seeded American Jessica Pegula beat Canada’s Leylah Fernandez 7-5 6-4 to set up a 4th-round clash with in-form compatriot Emma Navarro.

Fernandez broke to take a 5-3 lead in the first set, but Pegula responded perfectly, winning 4 straight games to bag it, bringing spectators to their feet with a backhand winner down the line as she clinched the opener.

Both struggled to hold serve in the second, with the first 7 games going against serve, but Pegula finally held to go 5-3 up, and she held the final game to love to secure the win.

Pegula, the highest-ranked American woman, will play against the rising star of US women’s tennis in Navarro, who upset 12th-seeded Italian Jasmine Paolini, 6-2 3-6 6-0.

Paolini, who won the WTA 1000 Series event in Dubai earlier in 2024, faded after fighting back in the second set, while Navarro confirmed her status as one of the most improved players on the tour.

Navarro prevailed in 1 hour and 51 minutes to oust Paolini, one of this season’s other break-through players.

With her 20th match win of the season, a record bettered only by Swiatek, Navarro is enjoying the most successful campaign of her career, having won her first WTA title in Hobart in January.

Pegula said the belief that comes from such a run of results will make her a difficult opponent.

“That feeling of winning a lot of matches, it’s really tough to beat people like that and even if you do beat them it’s never easy,” she said. “It will be a really good test for me to see where I’m at, considering she is probably one of the hottest players on tour right now.”

Navarro has now defeated 3 Top 20 opponents in 2024, Svitolina and Sabalenka in Indian Wells and Paolini here, which is one more than she managed in her entire career before this season.


Emma Navarro is on a hot streak and upset Jasmine Paolini in 3 sets to reach the round of 16 in Miami for the first time

© Al Bello/Getty Images

There is only one unseeded player left in the top half of the draw, and that is No 53-ranked Danielle Collins, the 2022 Australian Open finalist, who was a 6-1 6-2 winner over Russia’s Elina Avanesyan.

Collins will meet 33-year-old Sorana Cirstea from Romania, who upset another Russian, 11th-seeded Daria Kasatkina, 7-5 6-2, in an hour and 28 minutes.


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