Miami - Serena
Williams crashed out of the Miami Open in the first round here
on Wednesday, slumping to a straight sets defeat against Japan's Naomi
Osaka in the latest setback to the former world number one's comeback.
Osaka, who won her first major title in Indian Wells last weekend,
was superior throughout and fully deserved her 6-3, 6-2 win in just one
hour and 17 minutes.
It was Williams' fourth match and second tournament appearance since
returning from 13 months of maternity leave - yet the American's
movement and inability to stay in the rallies suggested her comeback
could be more arduous than expected.
The defeat was the first time Williams has lost her first match at an American hard court championship for 21 years.
Williams, 36, may have been unfairly unseeded here due to her lack of
action over the past year, but could have no complaints with the
In her comeback in Indian Wells, she made it through to round three, where she fell to sister Venus in straight sets.
Taking on Osaka was always going to prove a tough task - and so it did.
Williams refused to speak to the media afterwards. The WTA and
tournament will decide if she will be fined, with a potential cost
expected to be about $1 000.
She released a brief statement more than 90 minutes after the end of
the match that read: "Every tournament is an opportunity for me to
better understand the areas I need to improve to be my best.
"Naomi played a great match and I look forward to continuing my return by progressing every day.
"I am so grateful for my fans who continue to support me every step of this incredible journey."
Osaka, though, was understandably delighted.
"I was nervous but once the match started I was OK," said the
Japanese rising star, who next faces Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, the
world number four, in the second round.
"Serena is the main reason why I started playing. I have seen her on
TV so many times, so for me to be playing against her, trying to detach
myself from the fact I was playing Serena, was hard. It took me three
games (to get her head around it).
"It was a different type of nerves. I have never been like that
against a specific person. The final in Indian Wells was different
because I had never been in that position."
Williams looked a shadow of her former self, yet her opponent was too
focused on her own game to notice any glaring deficiencies in the
"I wasn't paying attention if she was struggling or not," Osaka said.
"I would freak myself out if I was looking too much at her. She did hit
a lot of shots which almost made me fall over and I was like 'Wow,
that's a Serena shot.'"
Williams, an eight-time champion in Key Biscayne, started strongly
and held her serve to love but it took a while for the American to find
Osaka, 20, showed some understandable nerves but was able to stay in
the game and when she broke in the seventh game, it was the perfect
chance for the Japanese player to take control.
The world number 22's serve - which was being clocked at an
impressive 115 mph - as well as the power in her ground strokes allowed
her to stretch the lead to 5-3.
Osaka was hitting the ball beautifully and broke again to take the first set with relative ease.
Osaka broke once more
to make it 3-1 in the second and she never looked back, sealing the win
when Williams hit an easy passing shot long.
"I think she was sad that it ended like that " Osaka said.
"I was new to the tour when she left after the Australian Open, so to
shake her hand at the end was pretty cool. She said, 'Good job,' but I
kind of blanked out.
"It's weird playing against someone who you've grown up watching.
There's a respect thing but you also want to win really bad. I just
wanted her to know who I am."
Results on the second day of the WTA and ATP Miami Masters tournament (x denotes seed):
Liam Broady (GBR) bt Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) 7-6 (7/5), 6-3
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) bt Rogerio Dutra Silva (BRA) 6-3, 7-6 (7/2)
Matthew Ebden (AUS) bt Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 7-5
Robin Haase (NED) bt Yuichi Sugita (JPN) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) bt Taylor Fritz (USA) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4
Nicolas Jarry (CHI) bt Cameron Norrie (GBR) 7-6 (7/3), 6-2
Maximilian Marterer (GER) bt Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-4, 6-4
John Millman (AUS) bt Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
Michael Mmoh (USA) bt Christopher Eubanks (USA) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
Benoit Paire (FRA) bt Mischa Zverev (GER) 1-6, 6-1, 6-2
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) bt Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5)
Joao Sousa (POR) bt Ryan Harrison (USA) 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4)
Jiri Vesely (CZE) bt Lukas Lacko (SVK) 7-6 (7/2), 6-3
Mikael Ymer (SWE) bt Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 3-6, 7-5, 6-1
Jared Donaldson (USA) bt Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) 6-3, 6-4
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) bt Guido Pella (ARG) 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/2)
Andrea Petkovic (GER) bt Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-2, 6-0
Garbine Muguruza (ESP x3) bt Amanda Anisimova (USA) retired
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) bt Madison Brengle (USA) 6-1, 6-4
Natalia Vikhlyantseva (RUS) bt Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 7-5, 6-1
Danielle Collins (USA) bt Irina-Camelia Begu (ROM) 6-1, 6-1
Naomi Osaka (JPN) bt Serena Williams (USA) 6-3, 6-2
Varvara Lepchenko (USA) bt Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 6-4, 5-7, 7-5
Oceane Dodin (FRA) bt Veronica Cepede Royg (PAR) 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) bt Catherine Bellis (USA) 6-3, 6-0
Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) bt Katie Boulter (GBR) 6-4, 7-5
Alize Cornet (FRA) bt Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 6-2, 7-5
Alison Riske (USA) bt Magda Linette (POL) 1-6, 6-0, 6-2
Wang Yafan (CHN) bt Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7/0)
Monica Niculescu (ROM) bt Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-2, 6-4
Zarina Diyas (KAZ) bt Jennifer Brady (USA) 7-5, 7-6 (10/8)
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) bt Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) 6-2, 2-6, 6-4
Carina Witthoeft (GER) bt Tatjana Maria (GER) 6-3, 6-4
Donna Vekic (CRO) bt Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-0, 7-5
Petra Martic (CRO) bt Lauren Davis (USA) 6-1, 7-5
Sofia Kenin (USA) bt Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 6-4, 6-4
Monica Puig (PUR) bt Samantha Stosur (AUS) 6-3, 6-4