Naomi Osaka corrected the awkward blunder.
Naomi Osaka corrected the awkward blunder.

Star corrects ‘embarrassing’ interviewer

Naomi Osaka had to correct an on-court interviewer at the Australian Open after an awkward question about her hopes of returning to the No. 1 ranking.

Osaka moved through to the third round with a 6-2 6-4 win over Saisai Zheng on Wednesday, but had to do it the hard way after going down a break in the second set.

She threatened to throw her racquet at one point and was visibly upset before she stormed through the last four service games to wrap up the win.

An even bigger challenge was waiting for Osaka in her post-match interview on Margaret Court Arena.

The Japanese star and reigning Australian Open champion was asked about her hopes of replacing Ash Barty as the No. 1 player in the WTA Tour Rankings with a second title at Melbourne Park.

The only problem is that Osaka cannot jump Barty in the world rankings even if she defends her title and the Aussie lost in the second round.

And she knew it.

The only problem was, the interviewer didn't seem to be on the same page, asking her about the possibility of returning to top spot.

The World No. 4 politely had to say that with her 5496 ranking points, she can't catch Barty, who is carrying 8017 points, even if she did win another major trophy in Melbourne.

"Ash is like 2000 points ahead of me and I have to defend this. I'm like, 'Yo, I'm going to drop out of the top 10 for real'," Osaka said.

Tennis commentator Jose Morgado said on Twitter the interview was "embarrassing" and issued another tweet criticising the man behind the microphone for his innocent mistake.



Naomi Osaka eventually got the job done.
Naomi Osaka eventually got the job done.

Osaka was pleased to advance to the third round after a tough match against a difficult opponent, which was made even trickier by Melbourne's blustery winds.

"I got really fired (up) when she (Zheng) was up 4-2 and people started clapping more ... for the drama," Osaka said post-match.

"I was complaining over here and almost throwing my racquet over there, but it worked out.

"I know I've been in this position on this court before, but I really didn't want to play a third set this time."

Barty is through to the third round after a straight sets win over Polona Hercog while the woman Osaka defeated in last year's final, Petra Kvitova, also won her second round match after a tough victory over Spain's Paula Badosa.

After dropping just one game during her first round blitz, the Czech seventh seed was made to work harder this time, but still did enough to prevail 7-5 7-5.

World No. 97 Badosa celebrated when she was convinced she had taken the second set on Rod Laver Arena after leading 5-4, but her winner cruelly dropped just wide.

Kvitova then responded to hold her serve and win the final three games of the match.

"She (Badosa) played a great match and made it really tough for me to get through," Kvitova said.

"The wind was not really nice. (Badosa) is a talented player and she will be a very good player in the future."

But 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka and 13th seed Petra Martic tumbled out in early boilovers. Tipped as an Open dark horse, Sabalenka lost 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (8-6) to veteran Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, a three-time Melbourne Park quarter-finalist.

Martic lost to German Julia Goerges 4-6 6-3 7-5.

American Alison Riske is on track for a round of 16 blockbuster with Aussie Ashleigh Barty after the 18th seed annihilated China's Zhu Lin 6-3 6-1 in the second round.

Australian wildcard Astra Sharma lost her delayed first-round match after going down to Estonian 28th seed Anett Kontaviet 6-0 6-2.