Eighteen-year-old Naomi Osaka, Roland Garros debutante and the youngest player left in the draw, pushed Simona Halep very close to the tournament’s exit door during their third-round encounter, before allowing the Romanian’s experience to prevail.
Already in the third game of the match, the 101st-ranked Osaka confidently broke Halep’s serve and although the world number six won three straight games from that point on to go from 1-2 to 4-2, the Japanese youngster capitalized on her opponent’s insecure first and second serves and went on a roll to take the first set.
In the six-minute first game of the second set, Osaka had a nice chance to continue the momentum, but a missed chance at the net gave Halep an opportunity to win the game and that missed chance must have shaken Osaka’s confidence, as Halep raced to a 3-0 lead. Even though Osaka did rebreak in the fifth game of the set, Halep continued to have the edge.
Similarly to the second set, in the decider Halep also established an early lead and Osaka’s mid-set revival wasn’t enough to send her into the fourth round, as Halep squeezed past the powerful debutante, 4-6 6-2 6-3.
This was just the second Grand Slam appearance of Osaka and her second straight third round of a major. The 18-year-old born in Osaka managed to properly frustrate Halep today, often making her opponent struggle as if Serena Williams was at the other side of the net.
Moreover, I love how this spring Adidas kit launched at the Australian Open looks on Osaka, she’s my favorite player to wear it, especially this white version of the graphic print tank.