Eight time champion Serena Williams and world No.1 Naomi Osaka are through to the third round of the Miami Open.
They were joined in the last 32 by defending champion Sloane Stephens, who brushed aside Tunisian Ons Jabeur for the loss of just four games.
— Sloane Stephens (@SloaneStephens) March 23, 2019
Osaka progressed after struggling to overcome battling qualifier Yanina Wickmayer; the top seed hit 14 aces and rode out a ragged stretch in the second set – becoming so frustrated she threw her racket – to win 6-0 6-7(3) 6-1.
She reaches round three for the first time since her 2016 debut.
“The scoreline doesn’t really reflect how dramatic it was for me,” the Miami-raised Osaka admitted after her win against her Belgian opponent.
“It was really hard for me … I think, emotionally in the second set, because I just started thinking about winning, not exactly the things I could do in order to win.”
The tournament has moved this year from Key Biscayne to the Miami Dolphins’ stadium complex, where Osaka took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Serena Williams, meanwhile, won her opening match by beating Swede Rebecca Peterson 6-3 1-6 6-1.
The American played poorly for a stretch and was broken three times but steadied her game in the final set to pull away. Serena avoided a repeat of last year, when she was eliminated in her first match by Osaka.
How did @serenawilliams get back in the game after losing the second set?
— WTA (@WTA) March 22, 2019
Meanwhile, Stephens routed an error-prone Jabeur 6-2 6-2 to begin her title defence on the perfect note.
“You can’t expect too much from yourself, just to play consistent,” said Stephens, who fell in her opening match at last fortnight’s tournament at Indian Wells.
“I think I stayed focused, made as many balls as I could, ran down as many balls as I could, made her play a little bit extra.”
In other results, three-time champion Venus Williams overcame a wobbly start to beat No.24 seed Carla Suarez Navarro 7-6(4) 6-1.
Canadian 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu, who overcame a match point to win her opening match, reached the third round by beating Sofia Kenin 6-3 6-3. Andreescu won her first career title last week at Indian Wells.
She’ll next face Kerber in a rematch of that spectacular Indian Wells final, after the German defeated Karolina Muchova 3-6 6-3 6-3.
Dane Caroline Wozniacki cruised past Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4 6-4, while second seed Simona Halep won in a canter over American qualifier Taylor Townsend.
Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, meanwhile, also won through to the third round with a 6-3 6-4 win over No.9 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
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