Doha, Qatar: Title favourite Iga Swiatek stormed into the third round while Naomi Osaka yesterday took sweet revenge against Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia to make a triumphant return to Doha at the Qatar TotalEnergies Open, yesterday.
In a commanding performance that lasted 61 minutes, Swiatek, the reigning champion for two consecutive years, launched her campaign for a third title with a resounding victory, effortlessly overcoming Romania’s Sorana Cirstea with scores of 6-1, 6-1 in their second-round match at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.
Swiatek will take on either Erika Andreeva or No.14 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in the next round.
Meanwhile, the Japanese former World No.1 Osaka ousted the 15th seed Garcia in their Round of 64, winning in straight sets (7-5, 6-4).
The victory is sweet revenge for the four-time Grand Slam winner who suffered a shock opening-round defeat at the hands of Garcia at the Australian Open last month. She also lost her first round clash against Danielle Collins of the US in Abu Dhabi a few days ago.
Osaka, who returned to the Doha event for the first time since 2018, said she is in better shape than she was at the Melbourne event.
“I feel like I’m a much better player now. In Australia, my returns weren’t as good and I don’t feel like I was as focused as I am now,” Osaka said after the match.
The four-time Grand Slam champion has now clinched her second victory in five matches since making a comeback to the WTA tour last month after a 15-month gap due to maternity leave.
“It’s been a really tough journey. I felt like I was chasing myself in the past and it honestly wasn’t really healthy to do. After giving birth, I feel I trained really quickly, I’m a very big perfectionist and it’s tough when you don’t see results as quickly,” Osaka said about the physical challenges she faced during her return to sport after pregnancy.
“I felt like I was driving a car that wasn’t mine. So my body didn’t feel like the body that I was used to,” Osaka, who booked an exciting second-round match against Petra Martic of Croatia, said.
Garcia was one of the four seeded players to exit in the first round yesterday.
Among yesterday’s upsets, Wang Xinyu of China defeated 10th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil with a commanding 6-1, 6-3 victory, while Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia eliminated compatriot Daria Kasatkina with a 6-2, 7-6 (2) win.
Last year’s French Open finalist, Canadian 21-year-old Leylah Fernandez defeated 12th seed Liudmila Samsonova of Russia in a tightly contested match that ended in two hard-fought sets, 7-5, 7-6 (4), while Elise Mertens of Belgium showcased her class against Peyton Stearns of the United States, securing her place in the next round with a straight-sets win of 6-2, 6-3. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina delivered a stunning performance to defeat Britain’s Emma Raducanu, with an impressive 6-0 opening set, followed by a closely contested tiebreak to win 7-6 (6).
Belarus’s Victoria Azarenka also notched a win, overcoming Magdalena Frech of Poland in an intense three-setter with scores of 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.