MIAMI GARDENS, Fla., March 31 (UPI) — Maria Sakkari handed Naomi Osaka her first loss in nearly 14 months Wednesday at the Miami Open. Sakkari steamrolled the world’s No. 2 player 6-0, 6-4 in the semifinals of the tournament.
“I couldn’t find a groove,” Osaka told reporters Wednesday during a Zoom video conference. “Mentally, it’s really hard for me to play against high-quality players with what I feel like is low-quality tennis.”
Sakkari’s win snapped a 23-match winning streak for Osaka and ended her hopes of claiming the No. 1 spot in the WTA rankings at the tournament, which runs through Sunday.
“I don’t think it was the best tennis I’ve ever played in my life.” Sakkari told reporters Wednesday in a Zoom video conference. “I think I executed my strategy and did what I had to do, but I’m not going to tell you what [my strategy] was.”
Osaka hadn’t lost a match since her setback to Sara Sorribes Tormo at the Fed Cup on Feb. 7, 2020. Sakkari now moves on to face Bianco Andreescu or Sorribes Tormo in the Miami Open semifinals Thursday in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Sakkari, ranked No. 25, had two aces, three double faults and saved one of two break points in the 68-minute match. Osaka had one ace, four double faults and saved 10 of 15 break point opportunities.
“I knew going into the match that she’s a really good fighter,” Osaka said of Sakkari. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
Sakkari rolled through the first set. Osaka then took a 4-1 lead in the second set, but fell apart down the stretch. She lost 15 consecutive points on her serve to lose the second-set advantage. She won match point when Osaka sailed a backhand return past the baseline.
“I would say this is for sure one of the biggest wins of my career,” said Sakkari, who also beat Serena Williams at the 2020 Western & Southern Open. “Beating Serena was equally big, but beating Naomi after her playing 23 matches in a row without losing was a big thing.”
Sorribes Tormo faces Andreescu in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. EDT Wednesday in Miami Gardens. World No. 1 Ash Barty battles No. 5 Elina Svitolina on Thursday in the other women’s semifinal.
Jannik Sinner faces Alexander Bublik in the first of two men’s quarterfinal matches at 3 p.m. EDT Wednesday. Daniil Medvedev takes on Roberto Bautista Agut in Wednesday’s other quarterfinal.
American Sebastian Korda battles Andrey Rublev on Thursday in the third men’s quarterfinals. Hubert Hurkacz then faces Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday in the final quarterfinal.