Naomi Osaka blows Madison Brengle away to move towards Ashleigh Barty showdown at 2022 Australian Open
Naomi Osaka: Powerhouse player, boardroom savvy and champion of activism - but still no stranger to self-doubt
Osaka defeats Brengle 6-0, 6-4
Defending champion faces Anisimova next before possible fourth-round match against No1 seed Barty
Defending champion Naomi Osaka overcame a second-set blip to beat the world No54 Madison Brengle of the United States 6-0 6-4 and reach the third round of the Australian Open, staying on course for a potential fourth-round clash with world No1 and Ash Barty.
The Japanese 24-year-old, who also won the women's singles title in 2019, will next meet the American 20-year-old Amanda Anisimova, ranked 60th, who beat Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic 6-2, 7-5 – with a mouthwatering clash against Australian Barty potentially waiting in the round of 16.
Brengle won merely nine points in the first set as an aggressive Osaka served superbly, facing no breakpoints, and returned strongly to breeze through the set in just 20 minutes. "I returned pretty well, it's not my usual stat but I've been working on it during the off-season," Osaka said in her brief post-match chat with Jim Courier.
The 54th-ranked Brengle, 31, had a big smile as the Rod Laver Arena crowd cheered her first service game win at the start of the second set as Osaka's game dipped. It triggered an immediate response from Osaka, who recovered the break immediately and finished off by winning the last nine points of the match, sealing the win after 65 minutes on her first match point with a second break of serve in the set.
I returned pretty well, it's not my usual stat but I've been working on it during the off-season. I'm trying not to [rate my form against the past], because I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I'm taking it one day at a time.
The goal for me is just to have fum and I think me and my team are achieving that.
Osaka 6-0, 6-4 Brengle (*denotes next server)
Game, set and match Osaka, breaking to love after a much more competitive second set.
She simply had too much ammunition for Brengle who showed her courage and skill to claw her way back in the second set and deserves every bit of the applause she garners from an appreciative crowd for withstanding the hurrican as long as she did.
Osaka 6-0, 5-4 Brengle* (*denotes next server)
Osaka puts her pedal to the metal and holds to love with a series of brutal serves and Brengle now serves to stay in the match.
Osaka* 6-0, 4-4 Brengle (*denotes next server)
Error after error from Osaka who seems stuck between percentages and her instinct to be aggressive and dominant. It has brought her to this point but reverting to her original strategy of harnessing the power to shift Brengle about earns her two break points (even though the winner that took her to 15-40 looked long to Brengle and most observers). She takes the second of them with her first volleyed winner at the net for a long yome.
Osaka 6-0, 3-4 Brengle* (*denotes next server)
Opportunity knocks for Brengle as Osaka's serve starts to wobble and the American moves to 15-40. Osaka yelps in exasperation when she hooks a forehand too long but she manages to defend the first break point with a vicious serve. And the second by climbing on top of Brengle's slice to wallop a crosscourt, double-fisted backhand winner.
Osaka takes a moment to stare at her feet when a floaty return induces an error. Third break point for Madison but she whips a backhand too long. Back to deuce.
Double fault makes it advantage Brengle. There's no conservatism to Osaka's play and it proves her undoing in this game as she is given an opportunity to smash an overhead winner but can't rise to meet it sweetly enough and swats it far too long off the top third of her strings.
Brengle breaks serve!
Osaka* 6-0, 3-3 Brengle (*denotes next server)
For the third time, Osaka fails at the net, her feet not moving quickly enough to get in the right position to angle a volleyed winner. Brengle holds comfortably for the first time, drawing the errors that just staying in a rally, using slice to negate power and using the full extent of the court brings even when playing the best.
Osaka 6-0, 3-2 Brengle* (*denotes next server)
As so often, the game swings back after a first-set demolition as Brengle, obviously no mug at No54, fights to 30-40 and a break point that Osaka defends with ice cold nerve with an ace. Brengle digs deep again and moves to advantage, inducing the error, bit can't take this break point after sweeping a backhand off a high-bouncing ball long. From the second deuce, Osaka goes bang! bang! with a pair of aces and the resistance, for now, is driven back to the bunker.
Osaka* 6-0, 2-2 Brengle (*denotes next server)
Osaka pushes Brengle into the corner from where she cannot escape to reach a fierce backhand winner hit to the other side. But the American fires a good winner of her own, on the forehand with loopy top spin and takes a rare Osaka unforced error as she went for a big winner to move to 40-15. Brengle takes the hold after a decent rally, finding her rhythm and troubling Osaka's precision when trying to combat the slice.
I thought Madison Brengle, who's beaten Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova and Sofia Kenin, might be tough for Osaka.
So far, not so much. Osaka just SMACKING full-on, glorious winners from everywhere. Very soothing, 10/10 would recommend.
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) January 19, 2022
Osaka 6-0, 2-1 Brengle* (*denotes next server)
That's given Brengle a fillip and she fires her first return winner of the match and then rips off a backhand crosscourt to move to 15-30. By firing a backhand into Osaka's body at the net she earns two break points but Osaka defends the first with an ace and the second with a spiteful kickserve followed by a winner two metres from the net.
Osaka drags a forehand wide to make it advantage Brengle but pulls her back to deuce with serve-forehand ferocity. She's been magnificent so far in these three-shot points. The forehand off the return is a stone-cold killer for her and she duly closes out the hold with an ace.
Osaka* 6-0, 1-1 Brengle (*denotes next server)
A glimmer of light for Brengle as she finds her range with backhands and slices as she battles to 40-30 and then she celebrates holding her serve with a knowing jog on the spot, fists punching the sky, much to the delight of the crowd who respond in kind.
Osaka 6-0, 1-0 Brengle* (*denotes next server)
A slower start to the second set from Osaka who goes love-30 down for the first time after a couple of unforced errors. But then normal service is resumed and she gorges on a weak return to win her first point and then smashes her way to parity after manipulating her opponent left, right and centre. Osaka pings down her third ace, but when she comes to the net she flaps her volley into the cord and it rebounds back into her midriff. Deuce.
Brengle is touchingly stoic and rueful in the eye of this Osaka storm, flashing a smile when she hooks a backhand crosscourt winner a few milimetres too deep and allows Osaka to wrap up the hold, but her trickiest one so far.
Osaka* 6-0 Brengle (*denotes next server)
With so much praise for her forehand so far, Osaka decides to show off her wonderful double-handed backhand with a couple of winners punched to take her from 30-love down to 30-40. However, after the best rally of the match she nets her overhead and Brengle finds the sanctuary of deuce for the first time in the match but tries to press home her advantage with an attempted winner that wasn't on rather than staying in the rally and Osaka then buries the set with a couple of venomous forehands.
Shades of Raducanu yesterday - this time the bagelling takes 20 minutes compared with Tuesday's 17.
Osaka 5-0 Brengle* (*denotes next server)
One can only feel sympathy for Madison Brengle who is being blown away as Osaka outguns her with an ace and a couple of forehands that push her so deep that it proves too much of a trial to keep her returns in play. Osaka holds to 15 and goes 5-0 up after 14 minutes.
Osaka* 4-0 Brengle (*denotes next server)
Just when Brengle gets into a rally and is starting to hold her own, Osaka reels off another powerhouse winner. Even when Brengle tries to negate the gaping power differential with some slice, Osaka just devours it and, because, under the bombardment, Brengle's serve cracks, Osaka breaks again with a bullet return up the line.
Osaka 3-0 Brengle* (*denotes next server)
Very much a procession so far. Brengle can't do anything other than defend and even then she can't hold Osaka off. Another two withering forehand winners take her to 40-love but she cannot take her first game point when her third attempt at a crosscourt winner strikes the top of the net and loops out. She presses home the second one, though, serving wide into Brengle's deuce court then, when her opponent chips it back, wrong footing her by hitting the winner back whence Brengle just came.
Osaka* 2-0 Brengle (*denotes next server)
Osaka's power is too hot to handle for Brengle who is struggling to keep her forehands when pushed deep in the court in regulation and is making too many errors by firing them long. Osaka races to 15-40 in no time at all and wins the game with a torpedo of a forehand winner from the centre mark, wide down the line of Brengle's ad court. Break.
Osaka 1-0 Brengle* (*denotes next server)
It has been a hot day in Melbourne with temperatures as high as 28C but it's expected to be a chilly night, evident in Madison Brengle's attire - she's wearing leggings. A forehand error apiece takes us quickly to 15-all. Osaka's serve isn't smooth so far but she wins a point with a wide effort on her second serve then comes to the net. Brengle tries, but fails, to lob her after being pushed deep and wide into her deuce court and Osaka wraps up the hold with a scorching crosscourt forehand
Off come the tracksuit tops
And play will commence imminently.
The players are out and knocking up
Osaka has won 14 matches in succession in Melbourne, having won there in 2019 and 2021. Brengle's best at the Australian Open is the fourth round in 2015.
And welcome to coverage of the match between the defending champion Naomi Osaka, the defending champion and focus of Piers Morgan's persistent unkindness, and the world No54, Madison Brengle of the United States.
Osaka spoke about the feeling of unfinished business that drove her to return to tennis after easing into the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Camila Osorio 6-3 6-3.
Osaka cut short her season after a third-round loss at the US Open to focus on her mental wellbeing and has been noticeably happier and calmer since the start of the new season.
She said: "I think it kind of came throughout this off-season that I had where I felt like I wanted to come back to play tennis. Usually it feels a bit automatic, like we as tennis players have the little break, then we immediately start the off-season again.
"I came back when I wanted to come back. I just felt like there are situations where I previously would get upset. But, at this point in my life, I'm here because I want to be here and because I find that it's fun for me. Might as well enjoy it while I still can.
"I think just to be playing on Rod Laver and to have such a good streak on Rod Laver is something I could be proud of and something I enjoy."
Osaka initially stepped away from tennis to bring to an end an unedifying row over her decision not to attend press conferences at Roland Garros last spring.
"I feel like there was a time after the French Open where I felt like everyone was judging me," she said. "It feels a bit weird when you go into a stadium to play and you're kind of concerned what everyone's gaze means. Basically right now I'm trying to learn how to be more selfish but in a positive way.
"I would say the turning point was after the US Open last year. I was just sitting in my house wondering, 'What do I want to do in the future?' I felt like there's still so many things that I want to do in tennis. I haven't played Wimbledon in two to three years. I want to go back and experience that whole thing.
"It's like a little bit of unfinished business, but also knowing that everything can't be perfect all the time. I accept the fact that I'll have dips, and I need to figure out a way to overcome it."