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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Sunday, March 24, 2024

Caroline Garcia brings fight and flight when she faces Naomi Osaka.

Rocketing 12 aces, Garcia won five of the final six games fighting off former No. 1 Osaka 7-6(4), 7-5 to reach the Miami Open round of 16.

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On match point, Garcia attacked digging out a demanding low volley and soaring for a smash to land in the round of 16 for the first time since 2019.

Afterward, Garcia said facing Osaka's jolting power makes you feel as if you leave a piece of yourself on court. Osaka zapped 16 aces and saved seven of nine break points.

"I think the [aces] came mainly in the first set. I felt second set I was struggling with my serve," Garcia told Tennis Channel's Prakash Amritraj afterward. "Second set, I left my shoulder out there because you have too much the power of Naomi, but first serve in the first set was super important for me."

The one-set lead empowered Garcia to keep swining away as she rallied from 2-4 down in the second set.

"It always gave me a lot of confidence," Garcia said. "I had to be as relaxed as I can technically and really try to get the ball as high as I can but really go for it…nice and loose.”

This third match between the two power players this season saw Garcia play periods of brilliant first-stike tennis to beat Osaka for the second time this season.

The Frenchwoman ripped 13 aces and did not face a break point, stopping Osaka 6-4, 7-6(2) in a superb Australian Open opener last January.

Riding an imposing first serves and timely strikes, Osaka defeated Garcia 7-5, 6-4 in Doha last month.

Today, Garcia played big and bold at pivotal points setting up a blockbuster round of 16 vs. hometown hero Coco Gauff.

US Open champion Gauff streaked through 10 straight games defeating French lucky loser Oceane Dodin 6-4, 6-0 to reach the round of 16 for the second time in the last three years.

The third-seeded Gauff and Garcia have split two prior meetings and both expect a battle with a quarterfinal spot on the line.  

"Also with Caroline, she's always a tough player to play," Gauff said. "I think the most recent time we played was US Open like two years ago. Probably even sooner.

"I can't remember the most recent time. I think I lost to her the most recent time. She's tough. We all know how she plays. Takes the ball super early, plays very aggressive. I think for me it's going to be important that I just kind of stick to my game and get the ball deep in the court and not letting them run me around on the court. It's kind of going to be a big matchup."

Photo credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty