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Qatar Open: Naomi Osaka beats Caroline Garcia in first round to avenge Australian Open defeat | Tennis News


Feb 12, 2024

Former world No 1 Naomi Osaka avenged her first-round defeat to Caroline Garcia at the Australian Open by beating the French world No 21 in straight sets in the opening round of the Qatar Open. 

Osaka, who returned to action in Melbourne just six months after giving birth, snapped a three-game losing streak to triumph 7-5 6-4. She will play Croatia’s Petra Martic in the next round.

Garcia defeated Osaka 6-4 7-6 (7-2) at the Australian Open less than a month ago and looked poised for another impressive victory when she broke serve in the fifth game in the first set.

Japan's Naomi Osaka reacts during a match against France's Caroline Garcia during the Qatar Open in Doha, Qatar, on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.AP Photo/Hussein Sayed)
Naomi Osaka is through to the second round of the Qatar Open, breaking a three-match losing streak

Osaka trailed Garcia 5-3 before turning the tables on the former world No 4, saving seven of eight break points. The four-time Grand Slam winner caught fire from there, reeling off five straight games to take the opening set.

Osaka earned one more break of serve in the match, in what proved to be the final game, to close out the win.

Up next, she faces another powerful server in Martic, who survived a third-set tie-breaker to defeat Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands 7-5 3-6 7-6 (7-5). Osaka won her only previous encounter with Martic, 10 years ago.

“It was really tough today, but I also felt really inspired because I haven’t been here in a while, and just to see everyone out here,” Osaka said on court after her win. “I saw a lot of Haitian and Japanese flags. It means a lot to me and it’s really nice to play in front of everyone.”

‘I struggled with everything!’ – Raducanu knocked out of Qatar Open

Emma Raducanu paid the price for a slow start as she suffered a disappointing 6-0 7-6 defeat to Anhelina Kalinina in the first round of the Qatar Open.

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Highlights from Emma Raducanu’s defeat to Anhelina Kalinina in the Qatar Open

The Brit was completely out of sorts in a first set that lasted just 22 minutes, but drastically improved her level in a far more competitive second.

Raducanu showed great spirit to save two match points with Kalinina serving to seal the contest at 6-5, but would then miss a set point chance of her own in the tie-break before ultimately losing it 8-6.

It’s the first time in the four tournaments that Raducanu has played since making her comeback in January after eight months out injured that the 21-year-old has made an opening-round exit.

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Emma Raducanu believes she never really got into her match against Anhelina Kalinina at the Qatar Open and is planning more preparation time for outdoor tennis

“I think I was struggling with everything, serve, return, forehand, backhand,” Raducanu told Sky Sports.

“To be honest I felt like I never really got into it. I think it was a combination of things. It’s like my first day match I think I’ve played in a year, so that’s different.

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Sky Sports Tennis’ Laura Robson and Marion Bartoli take a closer look at what went wrong for Emma Raducanu after she crashed out of the Qatar Open at the first-round stage

“Honestly, I think I need to practice training outside a bit more because it’s very different and also the light, conditions, shadows – it’s really hard to kind of see the ball, I found towards the end.

“When the tennis isn’t there, you have to at least try to fight and I think I did that in the second set.”

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