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Tennis: Serena loses to Japanese

Serena Williams (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Serena Williams (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

MIAMI (AFP) – Serena Williams crashed out of the Miami Open in the first round here Wednesday, slumping to a straight sets defeat against Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the latest setback to the former world number one’s comeback.

Osaka, who won her first major title in Indian Wells last weekend, was superior throughout and fully deserved her 6-3, 6-2 win in just one hour and 17 minutes.

It was Williams’ fourth match and second tournament appearance since returning from 13 months of maternity leave – yet the American’s movement and inability to stay in the rallies suggested her comeback could be more arduous than expected.

The defeat was the first time Williams has lost her first match at an American hard court championship for 21 years.
Williams, 36, may have been unfairly unseeded here due to her lack of action over the past year, but could have no complaints with the defeat.

In her comeback in Indian Wells, she made it through to round three, where she fell to sister Venus in straight sets.
Taking on Osaka was always going to prove a tough task – and so it did.

Williams refused to speak to the media afterwards. The WTA and tournament will decide if she will be fined, with a potential cost expected to be about $1,000.

She released a brief statement more than 90 minutes after the end of the match that read: ”Every tournament is an opportunity for me to better understand the areas I need to improve to be my best.

“Naomi played a great match and I look forward to continuing my return by progressing every day. I am so grateful for my fans who continue to support me every step of this incredible journey,” said Williams.

Osaka, though, was understandably delighted.

“I was nervous but once the match started I was OK,: said the Japanese rising star, who next faces Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, the world number four, in the second round.

“Serena is the main reason why I started playing. I have seen her on TV so many times, so for me to be playing against her, trying to detach myself from the fact I was playing Serena, was hard. It took me three games (to get her head around it).

”It was a different type of nerves. I have never been like that against a specific person. The final in Indian Wells was different because I had never been in that position.”

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Written by Tempo Online

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