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Rediff.com  » Sports » Tennis roundup: Svitolina ends Osaka's run; Halep survives scare

Tennis roundup: Svitolina ends Osaka's run; Halep survives scare

Last updated on: March 23, 2018 23:39 IST

 Elina Svitolina

IMAGE: Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine plays a shot against Naomi Osaka of Japan. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

Ukrainian second seed Elina Svitolina ended Naomi Osaka's remarkable recent run with a 6-4, 6-2 triumph over the Indian Wells champion in the second round of the Miami Open on Friday.

 

The 20-year-old Japanese, who followed her Indian Wells title run with a first-round victory over eight-times Miami champion Serena Williams this week, simply had no answer for Svitolina during their 83-minute clash.

Svitolina, who last month claimed the sixth title of her career with her triumph at the Dubai Open, faced little resistance as she won 72 per cent of her total service points and was broken once.

With the win, the Ukrainian will face either Australian 26th seed Daria Gavrilova or German Andrea Petkovic in the third round.

Australian 21st seed Ashleigh Barty also reached the third round with a 6-0, 7-6(0) win over American wild card Claire Liu.

Among the other key matches to be played in the women's draw on Friday are clashes between eighth-seed Venus Williams and Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Danish second seed Caroline Wozniacki's battle with Puerto Rico's Monica Puig.

Halep survives scare

Simona Halep

IMAGE: Simona Halep plays a backhand against Oceane Dodin during their second round match. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

World number one Simona Halep survived a scare from Oceane Dodin on Thursday, beating the lucky loser 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to reach the Miami Open third round, and while the Romanian was unhappy with her performance she said it had been a "good day at the office".

Halep, who almost joined eight other seeds eliminated on a day of upsets in south Florida, was delighted with the way she dug in and fought in the deciding third set on centre court.

"Maybe previous years I couldn't win the matches in the third set, so I'm really happy that I changed this to myself, and I feel stronger," Halep told reporters.

"So when I go to the third set, I don't panic. I'm relaxed and I'm just fighting till the end, and I'm sure that I have a big chance to win the match, so I just go for it."

An upset looked possible in the first set when Dodin's big first serve troubled Halep, who was crushed by eventual champion Naomi Osaka in the Indian Wells semi-finals last week.

But the defensive-minded Halep, who at times reached down to rub a troublesome right ankle, improved as the match wore on, getting the better of France's Dodin in extended rallies and in the key moments.

The match was in the balance until Halep had break points at 5-5 in the third set and jumped all over a weak second serve from the 21-year-old Dodin to move ahead.

Halep won the next game to love, rocketing down an ace on match point to set up a meeting with 30th-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska, who defeated Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck 6-3, 7-6(4).

"I felt just that I played bad, but it's a good day at the office and I'll take it," Halep said.

"You have these days, and when you don't give up, it's the most important thing. I think that's why I won today, because I didn't give up."

In an evening match, American 14th seed Madison Keys retired with what appeared to be a left hamstring injury early in the second set against three-times champion Victoria Azarenka, who led 7-6(5), 2-0.

Keys had the leg taped by a trainer after losing a first set that stretched to over an hour, but lasted just two more games before calling it quits.

Among the seeds exiting the tournament were number seven Carolina Garcia of France and number 12 Julia Goerges of Germany.

Kuhn gets early taste of tour victory in Miami

Nicola Kuhn

FILE IMAGE: Nicola Kuhn of Spain in action. Photograph: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Nicola Kuhn became the youngest Spaniard to win an ATP World Tour match since Rafa Nadal after the 18-year-old's 7-6(4), 6-4 victory over Darian King at the Miami Open on Thursday.

Kuhn, who turned 18 on Tuesday and is ranked 211th in the world, became the youngest Spanish winner since 16-times grand slam champion Nadal did it aged 17 in 2004, according to the ATP Tour's website.

Also on Thursday, Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis earned himself a second-round match against Roger Federer after thrashing Calvin Hemery of France 6-1, 6-2 in barely an hour.

Kuhn, who was born in Austria before his parents moved to Spain when he was a baby, said it was a "special day".

"It was a very tough match. I'm happy with today's victory, but now I need to focus on my next match.

"People here have a lot more experience than I have. I have to play matches, learn — whether I win or lose — and ultimately seize opportunities and give my all."

Kuhn has been eyed for several years as a player to watch, and he notched his first Challenger Tour title in Braunschweig, Germany last July.

Spain have seven players ranked in the top 40 in the world.

Some of the tournament's big names will take to centre court on Friday, with second seed Marin Cilic, fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro and ninth seed Novak Djokovic in second-round action.

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