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Ozaki upsets Safarova in second round

11 January 2017, by Leigh Rogers

Japanese qualifier Risa Ozaki has upset former world No.5 Lucie Safarova in the second round of the Hobart International. Ozaki scored a 2-6 6-3 7-5 victory in two hours and 18 minutes on Centre Court today.

Safarova took an early lead, but needed 25 minutes to establish her 3-1 advantage. There were lots of long games as both players wrestled for ascendancy. It was the Czech player who eventually took it, sealing the first set in 51 minutes with a scorching forehand winner.

Ozaki had six break point opportunities in the first set, but failed to take any. However that trend did not continue in the second set. Safarova built a 2-0 lead, before the momentum quickly swung in the No.100-ranked Japanese player’s favour. Ozaki took the second set then raced to a 3-1 lead in the decider.

“She started to pressure me more, did less mistakes and I kind of lost the rhythm there,” Safarova, the world No.62, admitted.

Safarova managed to get the break back, only to lose serve again in the seventh game. Serving to reach her third WTA quarterfinal, Ozaki was then broken to love at 5-4. The 22-year-old responded in emphatic fashion though, breaking Safarova’s serve in the next game then closing out the victory on her second match point.

“I did way too many mistakes, she put a lot of balls back, ran well and served well at the end,” Safarova said. “Obviously I’m disappointed, it’s not the result I would like but that’s tennis, thing’s happen.”

Ozaki has played some of her best tennis in Australia, winning back-to-back ITF titles in Canberra and Bendigo at the end of 2016 to help her break into the top 100. She now plays Romanian third seed Monica Niculescu in the quarterfinals.

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