Osaka, Nishioka fall in Miami Open third round


The third round was not kind to the Japanese contingent on Sunday, when qualifiers Naomi Osaka and Yoshihito Nishioka made their exits at the Miami Open.

Osaka, ranked 104th in the world, fell 7-5, 6-0 in the women’s draw to world No. 49 Timea Babos of Hungary. Nishioka, ranked 124th in men’s singles, lost 6-2, 6-2 to 14th seed Dominic Thiem of Austria.

The 20-year-old Nishioka had no answer for the precision of his 22-year opponent’s forehands.

“He had more power than I thought he would,” said Nishioka, whose wins here, including a second-round victory over world No. 23 Feliciano Lopez of Spain, were his first in an ATP tour masters event. “It was my fifth match (since the start of qualifying) and my feet just couldn’t get me to the ball.

“Because I could beat a player with a ranking in the 20s, it has added to my confidence.”

Osaka was in fine form with her service game until, trailing 5-6 in the first set, missed shots allowed Babos to break her serve, take the set and never look back in what became a one-sided loss.

“My opponent moved better than I did. It wasn’t like I was nervous, but I made a lot of mistakes,” Osaka said.

By reaching the third round, Osaka will likely move into the top 100, a level that would allow her to skip qualifying at Grand Slam tournaments.

“I want to be able to play with more confidence,” she said.

Kei Nishikori, the sixth seed here, will play his third-round match on Monday against Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov, the 27th seed. The two have played three matches before on tour, all on hard courts, with Nishikori having yet to drop a set.