Published: Sat, March 24, 2018
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Serena Williams posts motivational message after loss

Serena Williams posts motivational message after loss

Stosur suffered a 6-3 6-4 first-round loss to reigning Olympic champion Monica Puig hours after Williams lost her opener 6-3 6-2 to in-form Japanese star Naomi Osaka.

Playing her fourth match since returning to the tour, Williams was a step slow to balls in the corners and often late with her swing, while she put barely half her first serves in play. "I don't know if anybody knows this but Serena is my favorite player", Osaka said after the match.

Drawn against the returning Serena Williams in the opening round of the Miami Open in the first match since winning the biggest title of her career, it would have been the flawless opportunity for the young star to wilt under pressure. "I have seen her on TV so many times, so for me to be playing against her, trying to detach myself from the fact I was playing Serena, was hard".

Osaka had never faced Williams before, but - like so many players of her generation - had grown up idolizing the American.

"I think I've played more matches than I ever have back to back and I didn't really feel exhausted, so that's a good thing", she said.

"I was extremely nervous coming on to the court".

"Definitely playing Serena. But also just the matches leading up to the final, and the final itself", Osaka said.

The end of the contest was anti-climatic when an ugly unforced error by Williams, who hit a wide open forehand long, sent Osaka into a second round showdown against world number four Elina Svitolina of Ukraine. It was a little bit too much because just winning Indian Wells, (Osaka) was pretty confident. Osaka, meanwhile, could not quite get clicking on her serve, winning only 37 percent of her second service points and being broken four times.

Responding to a tweet from a fan who felt aggrieved about her pulling out of Russia's upcoming FED Cup tie, five-time grand slam champion Sharapova detailed the extent of her injuries, which include an air pocket in her lung, which is now preventing her from flying.

Indian Wells champion Osaka had claimed eight consecutive victories - beating Maria Sharapova, Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep and earlier this week Serena Williams.

"I was like, 'OK, this is going to be challenging, '" Svitolina said. "So to get the opportunity, I was just really happy".

Osaka saved two match points before holding for 5-2, but she was unable to convert three break points in the next game as Svitolina sealed the win. She has won this title so many times that she needs protection.

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