Naomi Osaka Heckled During Defeat Against Russian Veronika Kudermetova

Kudermetova held serve to open the match at 1-0 when a fan was heard heckling Osaka when the players switched ends.

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Former champion Naomi Osaka was sent packing from the BNP Paribas Open after No.21 seed Veronika Kudermetova of Russia defeated the Japanese player 6-0, 6-4 to advance to the third round on Sunday.

Kudermetova will face Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic for a spot in the pre-quarterfinal after the qualifier earned her first top-20 win of the season by defeating No.14 seed Jessica Pegula of the US 5-7, 6-2, 6-0.


Kudermetova and Osaka were due to face each other for the first time this season at the Melbourne Summer Set in January, before the latter withdrew due to an abdominal injury ahead of their last-4 clash.

"I have a little bit more confidence than last year because I think every day I practice really hard and it gives me really more confidence," Kudermetova told "I already beat a lot of good players this year. It also gives me a lot of confidence."

Kudermetova held serve to open the match at 1-0 when a fan was heard heckling Osaka when the players switched ends. The incident left Osaka rattled for much of the match, as she fought back tears during play. On the next change of ends she asked the umpire if she could use the microphone to address the crowd. Osaka would play on but addressed the crowd after the match on court.

"Hi," Osaka said, greeting the crowd. "I just wanted to say thank you. I feel like I cried enough on camera. To be honest, I've gotten heckled before and it didn't really bother me. But heckled here… I've watched a video of Serena and Venus getting heckled here and if you've never watched it you should watch. I don't know why but it went into my head and got replayed a lot. I'm trying not to cry but, I just wanted to say thank you and congratulations (Veronika). Thank you."

Kudermetova stormed through the opening set 6-0, benefitting from a wayward Osaka.

"It's nice to play against great players, against Naomi, because I never play against her," Kudermetova said. "I want to play that match because I want to see what I can improve, what I need to improve. I play really well today. I hope I will continue to play like that."

Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka returned to her winning ways, defeating Australian lucky loser Astra Sharma 6-3, 7-5 in her second-round opener. Seeded No.13, Azarenka will face No.17 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in the third round. Rybakina advanced earlier in the day by defeating Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium, 6-1, 7-5.

"I felt that I played good in important moments," Azarenka said after the match. "I think there were a little bit ups and downs in some games where I felt like I could be a bit more decisive. But again, I haven't played in a while. I have to get that match rhythm.

"Today was a good start to play against an opponent who gives a lot of different balls. I played actually I thought really well. I'm glad that I was able to handle myself and turn it up when it was important."

Meanwhile, 18th seed Leylah Fernandez of Canada came back from the brink to advance to the third round, saving four match points against Amanda Anisimova before the American retired due to illness at 2-6, 7-6(0). Fernandez will face American Shelby Rogers in the next round.

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Topics:  Naomi Osaka 

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