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By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, February 2, 2021

 
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Naomi Osaka extended her unbeaten streak to 13 matches and Elina Svitolina reached her sixth quarterfinal in her last seven events at the Gippsland Trophy.

Photo credit: William West/Getty

Six simultaneous tournaments makes Melbourne Park the true center of the tennis universe this week.

World No. 371 Katie Boulter eclipsed Naomi Osaka for one set today.

Osaka: I'm Not the Face of Women's Tennis

The US Open champion answered with escape velocity authority.

Osaka stormed through eight of the last nine games beating Boulter 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 at Margaret Court Arena.

The win extends Osaka’s unbeaten streak to 13 matches and sends her into the Gippsland Trophy quarterfinals.

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The second-seeded Osaka will play either fifth-seeded Johana Konta or Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu for a semifinal spot.

A day after Boulter beat Coco Gauff, Osaka’s conqueror at the 2020 Australian Open, she came out with a purpose against the second-seeded Japanese.

While Osaka showed some stretches of sloppy shotmaking in the first set—she hit 16 unforced errors compared to eight winners—credit Boulter for bold serving under pressure and outplaying the world No. 3.

Two years ago, Boulter was ranked a career-high No. 82 and was on the rise when a stress fracture in her back forced her out for most of the rest of the 2019 season.

Playing on a protected ranking of No. 85, Boulter caught a break in the seventh game. Osaka’s concentration lapse cost her as she took her eye off a routine forehand volley pushing it into net then double-faulted handing the break an a 4-3 lead to her opponent.

Facing break point in the next game, Boulter went big on a stinging second serve down the T to erase it. A slider wide preceded a twisting ace out wide as Boulter served her way out of problems to back up the break.

The 24-year-old Briton banged a drive right back at Osaka rattling out an error to take the 39-minute opening set. Boulter won 13 of 16 first-serve points in the set.

Resetting, Osaka found her range on serve, applied more spin to her shots and began dictating the direction of rallies with her forehand. Osaka torched through 10 points in a row bursting out to a 4-0 lead. Though Boulter would battle back to 3-4, Osaka closed forced a decider with her third break of the set.

The 2019 Australian Open champion broke at love and backed it up with a love hold for a 3-0 final-set lead and never looked back.

Though Osaka insists her tennis hero Serena Williams is the true face of the women’s game, fellow former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport is one of a few former champions forecasting the impending age of Osaka.

Tennis Express

Continuing her quest for a seventh career title, Osaka awaits the winner of Konta vs. Begu.

No. 3-seeded Elina Svitolina staged a comeback of her own. Svitolina broke serve seven times outlasting Jelena Ostapenko 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-2 to level their head-to-head series at two wins apiece.

The 13th-seeded Ostapenko hit her cause committing 11 double faults. Svitolina streaked through 10 straight points stamping a love break for a 3-0 lead in the final set closing in two hours, 12 minutes for her sixth quarterfinal in her last seven tournaments.

Next up for Svitolina is Elise Mertens.

The seventh-seeded Mertens defeated Caroline Garcia 7-6(1), 6-3.


 

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