Naomi Osaka Cruises Past Ons Jabeur, Advances to 4th Round at Australian OpenFebruary 12, 2021
Naomi Osaka's winning streak continues.
The 23-year-old, who is seeded third, defeated 27th-seeded Ons Jabeur in straight sets (6-3, 6-2) in the third round of Australian Open play.
It took five deuces for Osaka to come away with the first game.
The pair traded the next two games, with the third holding a similar feel to the first by featuring six deuces and three break-point chances, all of which Osaka saved en route to claiming the 2-1 lead.
Osaka won the serve with a sweep of Jabeur to take a 4-2 lead but then suffered the same fate when the Tunisian grabbed a double break-point and took the serve back. Jabeur lost it again after staving off a double break from Osaka but fell in the next game to give Osaka the 6-3 set win.
Osaka won just 54 percent of her service points in the first set.
In the second set, Jabeur took control in the first game but dropped three straight to Osaka.
She took the fourth game without allowing Osaka to score, creeping back in at 3-2.
After staving off a Jabeur comeback to take the 4-2 lead, there were four more deuces to get through before Osaka won to set up the match-winning game.
She swept the final game to take the match.
Osaka advances to face Garbine Murguruza, who defeated Zarina Diyas in straight sets (6-1, 6-1) earlier Thursday, in fourth-round play.
While Osaka and Jabeur had never played against each other on tour before, their relationship dates back to the 2015 WTA Rising Stars Tournament in Singapore.
"Ons was the only person that would talk to me," Osaka said. "She was just super nice and inviting. I remember when I played her there, she was doing these things that I've never seen before—hitting drop shots and then hitting flat-out winners right off the bat. So I was studying her and being very impressed at the same time."
They played an exhibition match back then in which Jabeur defeated Osaka, though the Japanese star went on to win the tournament.
Though Osaka was the victor Thursday, Jabeur is hoping their relationship extends into another sport: soccer. The Tunisia native jokingly said she's "waiting for the contract" to join the NWSL's North Carolina Courage, which Osaka became a part-owner of in January.