Karolina Muchova claimed a sensational victory over world number two Naomi Osaka today to seal her passage to the third round of the Mutua Madrid Open. In a very solid performance, the 24-year-old Czech beat the four-time Grand Slam champion 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in one hour and 49 minutes of play.
It is the world number 20’s third win against a Top 10 player so far this year. A semi-finalist at the Australian Open, the Czech player beat her compatriot Karolina Pliskova (6) in the third round and world number one Ashleigh Barty in the quarters. Osaka, who enjoyed a 100% record against Top 20 players coming into this event (3-0), found herself opposite a very consistent opponent who is very hard to beat.
“It was a tough match today”, explained Muchova. “I was ready to play with all I had today and to use all the weapons I could and with what I can. I’m definitely happy it worked out today.”
🚨 Upset alert 🚨
— #MMOPEN (@MutuaMadridOpen) May 2, 2021
Muchova started out highly focused, breaking Osaka in the third game and saving the only break point against that she faced in the set in the following game. The Japanese player threw everything at the set, saving two more break points at 2-4 and above all at 3-5. But when Muchova had the opportunity to serve for it, she did not hesitate to take the first set.
It was a similar story in the second, with Muchova once against breaking Osaka in the third game, consolidating her advantage in the next. This time, though, the Japanese clawed her way back into it, breaking back to make it 3-3. At 3-4 and 40-40, Muchova double faulted and the scales tipped in favour of her opponent. Osaka managed to break and was unforgiving when serving for the set, producing a game to love.
Starting over, Muchova quickly reached 3-0 in the decider and accelerated towards victory and a ticket to the third round with another break to make it 5-1 on her serve. With this win, the Czech player has also levelled her head-to-head with Osaka, who won their only previous clash.
“I was trying to move her as much as possible”, she said after the win. “It sounds easy like that, but she’s playing really fast so it’s not that easy on the court. In the second set especially she started to be very aggressive. I got back with what I did in the first set in the third set, and again, tried to move her left, right, dropshots but still in a fast way. In the third set it went my way.”
Muchova will now face a tough challenge in the next round: Maria Sakkari. The Greek, who cruised past Anett Kontaveit, 6-3, 6-1, in a little over an hour, won their only previous encounter.