There were a lot of expectations behind the second round match-up between the world number one Naomi Osaka and the former world number one Victoria Azarenka and the match was worth all the hype and buzz it generated among the fans.
Osaka, who has been struggling lately to find her best form, came to the French Open with some questions hanging around about her performances of late and her first round match against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova showed that pressure had indeed mounted on her as she entered the tournament.
Yet, she somehow pulled off a victory against Schmiedlova in three sets. Coming to her second round match against Victoria Azarenka, it took her quite a while to get adjusted to the game of Azarenka and eventually pull off a victory against the former world number one,
Let's look at the statistics of the match:
To start things off, Naomi Osaka started in a similar way as her last match and lost 4 games in a row before picking up momentum in the last stage of the first set. But, Azarenka was too strong for Osaka as she held her serve and took the first set, 6-4.
Osaka made a total of 43 unforced errors, most of them came in the first 20 minutes of the match when compared with Victoria Azarenka, who made 38 unforced errors.
If we take a look at the stats, there will not be a vast difference between the two as they were almost similar in all departments except the win percentage on the second serve. It was 56% for Osaka by the end of the match and only 43% for Victoria Azarenka. Osaka struggled to win points on the second serve in the first set but picked up her aggressive play and started damaging the second serve return on Azarenka's service as well.
Proving her aggressive style of tennis, Osaka hit 52 winners compared to Azarenka who hit 35 winners. Most of the winners came in the second and the third sets for Osaka where she started playing her natural game.
But, Azarenka's grit throughout the course of the match was worth applauding as she never backed down and got a break point in the third set after being down at 1-5. If she could have displayed a better performance on her last service game in the second set, she could have definitely won the match and it was Azarenka's backhand that did most of the damage to Osaka.
Coming to the break points, Osaka won 5 out of the 14 opportunities she had and Azarenka won 4 out of the 11 opportunities she had on Osaka's serve.
Even by the net, Azarenka showed dominance over Osaka as she won 15 points out of 23 approaches whereas Osaka won 17 points out of 28 approaches she made towards the net.
All in all, Osaka once again proved that she can bounce back from nowhere to get a win as she defeated a strong opponent in the form of Victoria Azarenka who gave her best on the court but fell short in the third set as she was unable to continue the momentum she had in the first two.
This victory will give Osaka the confidence that she was missing coming into the tournament and she can play with more freedom from here onwards.Published 30 May 2019, 22:27 IST