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Bad dream puts Osaka on edge before Australian Open win

Naomi Osaka raced into the Australian Open third round © AFP / Paul CROCK

Melbourne, Australia, Feb 10 – A “nervous” Naomi Osaka said she dreamed of defeat and feared the worst — before putting her worries to rest with a sweeping victory over Caroline Garcia at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Osaka, the third seed, faced a tricky contest against the Frenchwoman, who was ranked a career-high of fourth in late 2018, but never gave her a sniff in the 6-2, 6-3 victory in 61 minutes.

The three-time Slam winner, however, had an uneasy feeling Wednesday, waking up in a panic after a nightmare.

“Last night I had a dream that I lost this match, and I really didn’t feel good about it,” she said.

“My dreams are very telling of the future.

“Going into this match I was really nervous. So then I just talked to my team, and I felt better about the situation.”

The 2019 Australian Open champion cruised through the opening set and then snuffed out any challenge from 43-ranked Garcia with a break in the sixth game of the second, before finishing it off in style with her 10th ace.

“It’s really hard to play a player like her, because I never know when she’s going to swing for the ball or anything,” she said.

“I knew that she was going to be aggressive on my second serve, so I felt like I had to do better there.

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“I just have to keep staying steady. Happy that I was able to do it in two.”

She next faces 27th seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, a quarter-finalist at last year’s Australian Open whose talent has long impressed Osaka.

“I always felt like watching her she’s a player that can do anything, and I always felt like she should be where she is now and even higher,” she said of the 26-year-old.

Osaka, now unbeaten in 16 matches over the past 12 months, including the US Open final, is eyeing redemption after her title defence last year ended with a shock loss to American teenager Coco Gauff in the third round.

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