Osaka outlasts in-form Boulter to reach quarters

Tanya Simon
February 3, 2021

The local hero toppled Romania's Ana Bogdan, 6-3 6-3, in her first match since last February.

Australian Open favourite Naomi Osaka heads to Melbourne seeking a fourth Grand Slam title to further fuel her ascent towards the top of the women's game on court and amplify her voice off it.

Osaka next faces Briton Katie Boulter, who battled back to knock out American teenager Coco Gauff 3-6 7-5 6-2.

Boulter's win put her up against 3-time Grand Slam victor Naomi Osaka who blew past Alize Cornet in her 2021 debut.

Dan Evans was the only British player to win on Wednesday with Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter both edged out as preparations for next week's Australian Open continued.

The Australian played her first tournament in 11 months after opting to remain home in relatively COVID-19 free Queensland during the pandemic and even decided against defending her French Open crown.

Barty, hoping to break her country's 43-year singles title drought at the Australian Open, will face Shelby Rogers of the United States next.

"I feel like there's a lot of shots that I'm missing", said the world number three, who last played competitively at the U.S. Open in September.

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A refocused Osaka lifted her intensity to run away with the contest in a one-sided third set.

"There were moments where it was less and there were moments where it was more, but I felt like I was really nervous just going, like walking onto the court".

"But I'm really happy with how positive I was throughout the match".

KENIN THROUGH: Earlier, defending Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin's long-awaited return to Melbourne Park was brief after her Italian opponent Camila Giorgi retired injured after one set at the Yarra Valley Classic.

The Brit had two match points she was unable to take and then saved eight of Begu's, but was unable to find her best tennis in the tiebreaks as she lost 4-6 7-6 (12-10) 7-6 (7-4).

World No. 1 Barty also had a fright in her match against Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic, but recovered from a second-set stutter to win 6-0, 4-6, 6-3.

Heather Watson was also in action in her first match out of quarantine, the 28-year-old comfortably beaten 6-2 6-2 by Russian Veronika Kudermetova in the first round of the Grampians Trophy.

"I just somehow pulled it out of a hat, which seems to be the story of my career, so just happy to get through".

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