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Bad dream puts Osaka on edge

The three-time Slam winner had an uneasy feeling Wednesday, waking up in a panic after a nightmare before her Australian Open clash.

Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts during the women's singles match against Caroline Garcia.
Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts during the women's singles match against Caroline Garcia.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

A “NERVOUS” Naomi Osaka said she dreamed of defeat and feared the worst — before putting her worries to rest with a sweeping victory over Caroline Garcia at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Osaka, the third seed, faced a tricky contest against the Frenchwoman, who was ranked a career-high of fourth in late 2018, but never gave her a sniff in the 6-2, 6-3 victory in 61 minutes.

The three-time Slam winner, however, had an uneasy feeling Wednesday, waking up in a panic after a nightmare.

“Last night I had a dream that I lost this match, and I really didn’t feel good about it,” she said.

“My dreams are very telling of the future.

“Going into this match I was really nervous. So then I just talked to my team, and I felt better about the situation.”

The 2019 Australian Open champion cruised through the opening set and then snuffed out any challenge from 43-ranked Garcia with a break in the sixth game of the second, before finishing it off in style with her 10th ace. 

“It’s really hard to play a player like her, because I never know when she’s going to swing for the ball or anything,” she said. 

“I knew that she was going to be aggressive on my second serve, so I felt like I had to do better there.

“I just have to keep staying steady. Happy that I was able to do it in two.” 

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She next faces 27th seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, a quarter-finalist at last year’s Australian Open whose talent has long impressed Osaka. 

“I always felt like watching her she’s a player that can do anything, and I always felt like she should be where she is now and even higher,” she said of the 26-year-old. 

Osaka, now unbeaten in 16 matches over the past 12 months, including the US Open final, is eyeing redemption after her title defence last year ended with a shock loss to American teenager Coco Gauff in the third round.

© – AFP, 2021

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