MIAMI, Fla.— Naomi Osaka produced her best tennis of the year to take down Elina Svitolina in straight sets at the Miami Open on Saturday afternoon. And afterward, the former world No. 1 sent an ominous message to the rest of the field: She’s visibly improving with every match and, more importantly, she’s having fun on the tennis court again.

Osaka, a Miami finalist in 2022 and back with a wild card amid her return from maternity leave, needed an hour and a half to outlast No. 15 seed Svitolina 6-2, 7-6 (5) and move into the third round.

“I definitely do think it was one of my best matches, if not the best match (of the year),” Osaka said in her post-match press conference. “But I also want myself to play better and better every match.

“For me going into the match, I knew that she's a great player and I had no choice but to play really well if I wanted a chance to win.”


Osaka improved to 3-2 against Svitolina after her 6-2, 7-6 (5) win on Court Butch Buchholz.

Osaka improved to 3-2 against Svitolina after her 6-2, 7-6 (5) win on Court Butch Buchholz. 

Originally scheduled for Friday, Osaka and Svitolina’s match had to be postponed after a day of rain and thunderstorms washed out most of the day’s play. And as a result of Saturday’s packed schedule, the match was moved again from Stadium Court to the smaller Butch Buchholz Court—the tournament’s No. 3 court. But the Japanese player said the switch suited her just fine, as it gave the match a “fun” and intimate atmosphere.

“I honestly think the court was really cool, just like having everyone surrounding and everyone was so loud and vocal,” she said. “It just felt like Miami. It was really cool to play on that court.”

Osaka looked right at home on court too, even as she needed a few games to begin making inroads. The strategy was clear from both from the outset, with Osaka using her firepower to dictate the rallies and go for winners and Svitolina absorbing her pace and forcing her to hit one more shot, allowing errors to rack up.

She pulled away in the first set as she reeled off the last four games in a row with a double break, but found herself locked in battle against Svitolina once again in a tight second set. After trading breaks of serve, Osaka needed two match points in the deciding tiebreak to seal the victory. The Japanese struck five aces, and improved her first serve percentage from 43 percent against Elisabetta Cocciaretto in the first round to 60 percent as she dropped serve just once in the match.

WATCH: “We’re work buddies!” Naomi Osaka laughs about having to face Caroline Garcia again in Miami


Osaka told press that she thought coach Wim Fissette was joking when he informed her that she was set to face No. 23 seed Caroline Garcia once again. It will be the pair’s fourth career meeting, with three of those matches coming this year alone.

“Man, we're friends at this point! We're just, you know, work buddies,” Osaka said with a grin. “We see each other all the time. It's funny. I just want to be seeded so I can just stop playing her, like…”

While Osaka leads their overall head to head 2-1, their encounters in 2024 have been decided by razor-thin margins. Garcia scored her first win over Osaka in the Australian Open first round, toppling the two-time champion 6-4, 7-6 (2) in the third match since her return from maternity leave.

Osaka got her back in Doha, where she notched a 7-5, 6-4 victory over the Frenchwoman en route to her first quarterfinal of the year.

“She's an amazing player. I know this. Every match we play is really difficult,” Osaka said. “It's just going to be interesting playing on these courts because I really like these hard courts.”