Emma Navarro’s Centre Court debut, against Naomi Osaka, was a perfect melody

“Definitely a special experience playing out on Centre Court,” said Navarro. “I really tried to enjoy it and take it all in and really appreciate the opportunity, also while playing good tennis. I think I was able to do that. So yeah, really amazing and special experience today.”

The second Simon song I mentioned is, of course, “You’re So Vain.” But to watch Navarro play is to witness a game that is fantastically devoid of any vanity, artifice or anything other than a crystal-clear focus.

Versus Osaka, Navarro conducted a masterclass in match management.

Land first serves versus a highly assertive returner? Navarro got in a whopping 73 percent, won 27 of 33 first-serve points, and never faced a break point.

Capture break points? Navarro won seven of nine.

Generate a high ratio of winners to unforced errors? Try 23 to eight (usually two to one is excellent).

That longstanding adage about the all-important seventh game? Sure enough, at 3-all in the first set, there was Navarro, breaking Osaka at love.

Said Osaka afterward, “Honestly, I feel like even though in the beginning it was kind of like we were trading games, I don’t know why, I didn’t feel fully confident in myself. I didn’t feel like I was playing that well. I guess, like, those doubts started trickling in a lot into my game.”

Credit Navarro for quietly and forcefully creating those doubts.

“I tried to move my positioning around against first serves,” she said. “I don’t know. Maybe that got in her head a little bit. I wanted to try to make her hit the serve that she doesn’t want to hit, and I didn’t want her to know where I’m going to be at in terms of positioning. Maybe that helped me as a returner some today.

“Then during the rally, just my coach says, ‘Hit through the ball as if you’re hitting through a volleyer, so just keeping the ball lower and through the court, staying grounded.”

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