Naomi Osaka's stunning statement in first match since fan furore

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·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
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Naomi Osaka (pictured) speaking to the media before the Miami Open.
Naomi Osaka (pictured) said she felt at home after her First Round Miami Open win. (Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka has followed up the drama surrounding her exit at Indian Wells with an emphatic win in Miami as she looks to put the California incident behind her.

Osaka returned to tennis with a smile on her face after a dominant 6-3, 6-4 win over Australian Astra Sharma at the Miami Open.

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Only 11 days ago, Osaka broke down in tears as a member of the crowd heckled her during a match.

The incident rattled Osaka, who said she didn't find the comment so hurtful but because she was reminded of how Venus and Serena Williams were targeted at Indian Wells in 2001.

But the four-time grand slam champion admitted she had come back stronger as she felt at home in Florida.

"This is like my home tournament," Osaka said, after a big round of applause from the crowd.

"Honestly, I just didn't want to let anything bother me today, no matter what happened.

"Like, the last match I played was not the greatest memory for me.

"I just wanted to prove I could come back out here and compete and no matter if I won or lost just know I had the best attitude that I could."

Sharma, who will take the Australian No.2 ranking following Ash Barty's shock retirement, found no hint of vulnerability in Osaka nor her game as the Japanese, in just her second event since a third-round exit at the Australian Open, proved far too strong.

The four-time grand slam champ never allowed Sharma even the sniff of a break while keeping the World No.96 on the back foot as she converted two of her own 11 break point opportunities, sealing her victory in 80 minutes.

Naomi Osaka's Indian Wells drama

Drama ensued at Indian Wells when when someone in the crowd repeatedly yelled "Naomi, you suck", at the Japanese star during her defeat to Veronika Kudermetova.

After falling 0-3 down her emotions spilled over and Osaka was reduced to tears as she sat court side.

Osaka then approached the chair umpire and asked if she could address the fan over the microphone, but her request was denied.

Naomi Osaka (pictured) speaks with WTA supervisor Clare Wood after play was disrupted by a shout from the crowd at Indian Wells.
Naomi Osaka (pictured) was in tears during Indain Wells after a heckler targeted her during a match. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The 24-year-old quickly pulled herself together and resumed the match, and even though she raised her game in the second set she could find no answer for Veronika Kudermetova and bowed out 6-0, 6-4.

Following the match, Osaka explained that she hasn't been bothered by hecklers in the past, but this time it was different.

Many fans took to social media and labelled the behaviour 'shameful'.

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