No.13 seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka continued to thrive in Melbourne, posting her 15th consecutive win in the city 6-0, 6-4 over Madison Brengle in the second round of the Australian Open.

Osaka has also won 24 of her past 25 matches in Melbourne dating back to 2019. This encompasses her two Australian Open crowns in 2019 and 2021, semifinal showings at the 2021 Gippsland Trophy and Melbourne Summer Set 1 this year (both of which ended in walkovers), and a third-round run at the 2020 Australian Open (losing to Coco Gauff).

The last time Osaka had played Brengle was in the 2013 Rock Hill ITF W25 event, one day after her 16th birthday. Brengle had won 6-2, 6-2 that day; eight years on, Osaka turned the tables to concede just four games herself. In the third round, she will face a second American in a row in an intriguing first-time clash with Amanda Anisimova.

Match management: The first set was as dominant as the score line suggests. Osaka wrapped it in 20 minutes for the loss of only nine points, four of which were in its final game. The Japanese No.1 slammed 13 winners and seemed impregnable in every department.

When Brengle finally got on the scoreboard with a hold in the second game of the second set, the 31-year-old raised her arms in mock triumph and some relief. This turned out to be the foothold she needed to make the match competitive.

Brengle had managed to progress 6-1, 0-6, 5-0 (ret.) over Dayana Yastremska in the first round while hitting just one winner. Her second and third of the tournament, both on the backhand side, came back-to-back immediately after capturing her first game against Osaka. Moreover, the World No.54's canny defence and tricky slices were beginning to draw errors from her opponent, particularly at net.

Watch This: 12 brilliant winners by Osaka against Petkovic in Melbourne

2022 Melbourne 1

Clutch serving enabled Osaka to stave off three break points in that game, and another three in her next service game. But at 3-3, the pressure finally told, and Brengle converted her 10th break point of the set as Osaka sent a smash long.

If getting on the scoreboard had been key to Brengle raising her level, going down a break played a similar role for Osaka. Cleaning up her game with alacrity, Osaka resumed her first-set form immediately to rattle off 12 of the last 13 points of the match. Eight of those were clean winners, taking her overall total to 37, including her first two volley successes of the day.

In Osaka's words: Afterward, Osaka reminisced about watching Brengle on the USTA's ITF circuit as a teenager.

"I remember when I was younger, I would watch her play in the pro circuit," she said. "She was kind of notorious for getting every ball back. So I just took those memories from back then and tried to tell myself, like, you're probably going to make a lot of unforced errors this match, but it's something you have to do because you can't let her dictate you in this match in the way that she would try to - like, to keep the ball in play.

"For me, I feel like it was really important that even though I made a lot of errors at the net today, I thought it was really important to keep stepping in. 

"In that moment [when Osaka dropped serve], of course I was really disappointed with myself, but I also think these are the type of matches that I need to play in Grand Slams - to get broken and to figure out a way to fight back in really crucial times. 

"I thought that for me, I rushed a lot in that specific service game, and you could kind of tell I was a bit shaky. I made a double fault where I really shouldn't have made a double fault. But I tried to shake that off in the return game right after, and I think I did pretty well there."

Sakkari quells debutante Zheng's power

No.5 seed Maria Sakkari was Day 3's last winner, advancing 6-1, 6-4 over qualifier Zheng Qinwen in 1 hour and 29 minutes. The Greek player had battled for nearly two hours to overcome No.287-ranked Tatjana Maria in the first round, but delivered a solid performance to quell the challenge of the fast-rising teenage debutante.

Zheng, 19, had won 76 out of her 93 matches since August 2020; her seamless rise through tournament levels had seen her reach a maiden WTA semifinal at Melbourne Summer Set 1, and then qualify for the Australian Open in her first ever Grand Slam competition. But she was repeatedly outmanoeuvred by Sakkari, who won 71% of her first serve points and all 10 of her net approaches.

After Zheng had battled through five deuces to hold in the opening game, Roland Garros and US Open semifinalist Sakkari seized control to rattle off the next nine in a row. Zheng's formidable serve garnered her eight aces in total, and a foothold in the second set, but Sakkari's stranglehold on momentum continued until she reached the brink of victory at 6-1, 5-2.

Bold forehands enabled Zheng to stave off one match point in that game and another as Sakkari served for the win. Sakkari netted a backhand to squander a third, and a rejuvenated Zheng held a point to level at 5-5. However, the No.108-ranked teenager netted a forehand, and two points later a relieved Sakkari converted her fourth match point as Zheng sent a backhand wide.

Sakkari will next face No.28 seed Veronika Kudermetova, who came from 5-2 down in the second set to defeat Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-2, 7-5 in 1 hour and 24 minutes. The pair have split two previous matches at one win apiece; Kudermetova, in the third round of a major for the third time, will be seeking to make her debut in the fourth round.

veronika kudermetova
More Head to Head
33.3% Win 1
- Matches Played
66.7% Win 2
maria sakkari