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Home » News » Naomi Osaka, Playing “More freely” Since Returning To Tour As She Charges into Miami Open second round Defeating Elisabetta Cocciaretto

Naomi Osaka, Playing “More freely” Since Returning To Tour As She Charges into Miami Open second round Defeating Elisabetta Cocciaretto

Naomi Osaka, Playing "More freely” Since Returning To Tour As She Charges into Miami second round Defeating Elisabetta Cocciaretto

Naomi Osaka feels that she is swinging “freely” and getting back that winning feeling in Miami Open. She said it following her victory against world No. 51 Elisabetta Cocciaretto on Wednesday night.

The Japanese International hit six aces and didn’t face a single break point en route to her 6-3, 6-4 victory. She booked her place in the second round in just 78 minutes.

Honestly, this is probably the most free that I was able to hit my balls, like, the closest to the feeling I want to capture going forward,” Osaka said in her post-match press conference. “I would say this is probably my best match in terms of shot-making. I felt like the balls I wanted to hit were there. Yeah, I’m pretty happy with this one.”

I honestly came out probably playing or swinging the best that I have in, I guess, since I have been back,” she added.

Osaka took the court at Hard Rock Stadium with her mom and sister watching on, for the first time since her run to the final here in 2022. Osaka shut down her season early that year as she had to deal with injuries. Then she announced that she was expecting her first child.

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Osaka’s Evolving Approach

And now after two years, Osaka has been keen to enjoy herself more on the court. With baby Shai being a constant source of motivation, she wishes to use her time wisely.

And during her first meeting with Cocciaretto, her new perspective showed. The Italian was the champion at a WTA 125 event in Charleston last week. The 23-years-old performed admirably, matching Osaka’s pace by saving five out of seven break points she faced. However, early breaks in each set ultimately proved decisive.

Osaka’s powerful serve effectively kept her out of trouble during the entire match and kept Cocciaretto constantly on the defensive. The former world No. 1 managed to win 82 percent of all points (40 out of 49) played during her own service games.

I thought she played really smart,” Osaka said afterward. “I felt like for me it was almost, in a way, a relief that she played so smart, because I felt like the shots that I needed to play I knew that I needed to play them. It gave me, like, an extra boost.”

A Look Ahead to the Svitolina Showdown

Osaka will be up against Elina Svitolina. The Ukranian has proven to be a tricky opponent for Osaka historically. Both players have an equal head-to-head record with three wins each. Despite not having competed against each other since 2019, there remains a significant amount of mutual respect between the two mothers on the tour.

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When I think of Svitolina, I think of her as a fighter. I feel like she’s the type of person that would never give up on a single ball. Obviously that’s why she is where she is right now,” she said during the Japanese portion of her press conference.

I also feel like it’s really incredible for her to have had a kid and already doing so well and winning so many matches.”

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