Osaka coy on niggle after reaching third round

Friday, 18 January 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Japan's Naomi Osaka in action during the match against Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek - REUTERS 

MELBOURNE (Reuters): US Open champion Naomi Osaka called for the trainer and took a tablet during her dominant second round win over unseeded Slovenian Tamara Zidansek at the Australian Open on Thursday but declined to reveal any details of her ailment.

The first player from an Asian country to win the US Open singles title, Osaka was hampered by a back injury toward the end of last season and withdrew from the Sydney International in the leadup to Melbourne Park after making the Brisbane semi-finals.

Osaka called for the trainer and took medication when leading 2-1 in the second set against Zidansek but otherwise appeared in rude health as she bashed her way to a rousing 6-2 6-4 win.

Fourth seed Osaka reached the fourth round of last year’s Australian Open and has been getting used to the attention that comes with being a Grand Slam champion after New York.

She said she still felt too new to the tour to feel comfortable hugging her rivals after matches and preferred a handshake-first policy.

Osaka, who will play Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei for a place in the fourth round, gave a second serving of joy to Japanese fans, who had watched compatriot Kei Nishikori close out a five-set cliffhanger against Ivo Karlovic on the previous match at Margaret Court Arena.

Osaka ran into Nishikori, Asia’s first male Grand Slam finalist when he made the 2014 US Open title-decider, when walking in the tunnel through to the court before her match.