Japanese tennis star, Naomi Osaka says her defeat to Maria Sakkari at the Miami Open did not come to her as a surprise as she has not been playing well recently.
Osaka’s 23-match winning streak came to a shuddering halt in stunning fashion as she was beaten on Wednesday by the impressive Sakkari.
The world number two had not lost for over a year prior to Wednesday’s outing, putting together the ninth-longest unbeaten run seen on the WTA Tour since the start of 2000.
However, this year’s Australian Open champion was simply unable to match her opponent’s high standards in their quarter-final clash, resulting in a 6-0 6-4 triumph for the excellent Sakkari.
“She’s a really big fighter so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Osaka said. “I felt like I haven’t been playing well this whole tournament,”
“I couldn’t find a groove, so mentally it’s really hard for me to play against really high-quality players with what I feel is low-quality tennis.”
Osaka’s previous loss was back in February 2020, when she was also beaten in straight sets by Sara Sorribes Tormo at the Billie Jean King Cup.
World number 25 Sakkari had battled hard to get past Jessica Pegula in the previous round – including saving six match points – but needed just 69 minutes to see off four-time grand slam champion Osaka, who managed just five winners during her surprisingly brief stint out on court.
Afterwards, Sakkari revealed how coach Tom Hill helped devise a strategy to trouble the second seed – albeit she had to come from 3-0 down after a difficult start to the second set.
Since then, she has won last year’s US Open and then the first grand slam in 2021, though the loss to Sakkari did not come as a complete surprise to her having struggled for rhythm in Miami.
Next up for Sakkari in the semi-finals is another former grand slam champion – Bianca Andreescu. Triumphant at Flushing Meadows in 2019, eighth seed Andreescu outlasted Sorribes Tormo 6-4 3-6 6-3 in the day’s final match at the WTA Premier event.