Naomi Osaka is into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with an emphatic 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over Garbine Muguruza in one hour and 55 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
It was a remarkable turnaround from the 2019 champion who came from two match points down to win the contest, extending her winning streak to 18 matches in all competitions.
Osaka will play Su-Wei Hsieh, who knocked out Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets, next.
Osaka began brightly in the Day 7 opener on Rod Laver, but Muguruza recovered from a break down in the second game to take it in 31 minutes.
Despite some blistering forehands and hitting more winners, Osaka simply made too unforced errors – 13 compared to Muguruza’s 6 – and it cost her.
The Spaniard broke the Osaka serve in the first game of the second set with a smart lob. However, like Muguruza did in the first set, Osaka came from a break down in a scrappy fourth game to clinch it and forced a decider.
A crucial moment of the match arrived in the fifth game of the third set when Osaka dropped her racket to the ground in frustration after going down two break points. The number three seed won a fine forehand winner to save one before double faulting on the second to hand Muguruza the break.
Muguruza battled hard to hold her serve with aces and more winners at the net and she had the opportunity to win it at 5-4 on Osaka’s serve.
But Osaka saved the two match points and broke back at 5-5. That appeared to affect Muguruza mentally and the momentum was with Osaka, who went on to seal an excellent comeback victory.
“I feel like today I didn’t really know what to expect because I’d never played her before,” she said post-match. “But I knew it was going to be tough. I’m kind of tired right now.
“Today I feel like I was a bit intimidated because I knew she was playing really well coming into this match and for me I feel like in the stressful points I feel I have to go within myself and I know that today I probably hit a lot of unforced errors. I think that was something I needed to do because I couldn’t really give her any short balls because she’d finish it.
“I’m not really looking forward to it [Playing Hsieh]. She’s going to be really tough. Every time I’ve played her its three sets, it’s really long. I think I played her two years ago here so it’s actually fun when I’m not really angry.
“It [Hsieh’s style] makes it really tricky. I know the people she’s played are super difficult and you know for me whenever I play her I have to expect everything.”