Miami | Two big casualties
Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki and the Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka were both ousted from the Miami Open and were nearly joined by Venus Williams.
Wozniacki, the world No.2, slumped to a shock 0-6 6-4 6-4 defeat to the Olympic champion Monica Puig of Puerto Rico while the unseeded Osaka’s bid for the “Sunshine Double” of winning back-to-back WTA Mandatory events ended with a 6-4 6-2 loss to fourth seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.
It was challenging. I'm very happy the way I handled this match today and the way I was playing Elina Svitolina
“It felt like Rio all over again,” the 2016 Rio Olympics gold medallist said. “I have been waiting for this and to finally start finding myself again. I just tried to stay positive, I didn’t think I played that poorly in the first set. She’s a great player so I had to stay focused and keep fighting.”
The 27-year-old Wozniacki appeared to be headed to an easy victory after winning the first set in less than 30 minutes before her word collapsed to the 82nd ranked player on the tour.
“I just tried to stay positive,” she said. “I didn’t think I played that poorly in the first set. She’s a great player so I had to stay focused and keep fighting.”
Puig became the first Puerto Rican athlete to win gold in any sport at the Olympics when she beat Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the final.
Meanwhile the player of the moment, Japan’s Osaka who beat Serena Williams in the first round, was set to add to her eight-match winning streak.
Unfortunately she met a determined Ukrainian with two titles to her credit this year, who broke Osaka four times en route to her 83-minute straight sets win.
Osaka saved two match points before holding for 5-2 in the second set, but she was unable to convert three break points in the next game as Svitolina sealed the win.
“It was challenging. I’m very happy the way I handled this match today and the way I was playing,” Svitolina said.
In other second-round action, seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams stormed back from deficits in each set to defeat world number 88 Natalia Vikhlyantseva 7-5 6-4.
Eleventh seeded Johanna Konta got her Miami Open title defence off to the best of starts with an excellent 6-4 6-3 victory over Kirsten Flipkens.
The British No1, who has seen a drop in her form over the last few months losing six of her 12 matches this season and, since her run to the Wimbledon semi-finals in July, won just nine in 20 matches, regained some confidence against the Belgian and can now look forward to a third-round clash with Elise Mertens, who beat Bernarda Pera 7-6(5) 6-3.
It is always important for Konta to serve well, and against Flipkens she did exactly that to keep her at bay, facing just one break point in the match which she saved.
The 37-year-old American improved to 7-3 on the season as she clinched the victory on the second match point when the 21-year-old Russian smacked a forehand wide.
Ninth-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova defeated 19-year-old Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 7-5 3-6 6-3.
Other seeded players did not fare so well. 19th seed Daria Kasatkina failed to back up her run to the Indian Wells final and lost 3-6 6-2 6-2 to American youngster Sofia Kenin.
16th seed Coco Vandeweghe suffered a shock 6-3 1-6 6-1 loss to another American qualifier, Danielle Collins, and 28th seed Anett Kontaveit’s poor 2018 continued as she was unexpectedly thrashed 6-4 6-1 by Maria Sakkari.
But it was not all bad news for the seeds, as Jelena Ostapenko beat Timea Babos 6-4 6-4 and Kiki Bertens overcame Varvara Lepchenko 5-7 7-6(5) 6-1.
Off court Serena Williams was fined $1,000 for not attending her mandatory press conference following her 6-3 6-2 first-round loss to Naomi Osaka. The America who holds a modern-day record of 23 Grand Slam titles, was in no mood to speak to the press following the match and stormed off from the tennis venue at Crandon Park as soon as the game was finished.