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Sakkari Snaps Osaka’s 23-Match Winning Streak, Sweeps Into Miami Open Semifinals

Maria Sakkari swept world No. 2 Naomi Osaka 6-0, 6-4 to reach the Miami Open semifinals. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

Former Floridian Naomi Osaka regards the Miami Open as her home tournament.

Today, a ruthless Maria Sakkari served the world No. 2 a severe eviction notice.

A sharp Sakkari snapped Osaka’s 23-match winning streak sweeping a stunning 6-0, 6-4 victory to soar into her first Miami Open semifinal.

Supremely fit, fierce and focused, Sakkari played flawless tennis in the first set and bounced back from a break down in the second surging through the final five games in scoring the biggest win of her career. 

It’s a massive win, but Sakkari said it’s not even her peak performance.

“I don’t think tennis-wise it was like the best tennis I have ever played in my life,” Sakkari said. “I think I executed our strategy with [coach] Tom [Hill], you know, really well. I just did what I had to do. I’m not gonna tell you what.”

Osaka showed she’s human. Building a 4-1 second set lead one of the sport’s premier closers couldn’t seal the deal against the speedy Sakkari. It’s Osaka’s first loss in nearly 14 months and means she won’t surpass world No. 1 Ash Barty for the top spot in Miami.

” I feel like even if you’re not playing great you should still find ways to win. I’m trying to find ways to do that,” Naomi Osaka said after suffering her first loss in nearly 14 months at the Miami Open. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

“For me, I feel a bit similar to when I lost to Coco Gauff] in Australia [2020], but I think in this match it’s different,” Osaka said. “Like I feel I played worse here possibly but I fought more.

“So I think I am improving in that way, because I feel like even if you’re not playing great you should still find ways to win. I’m trying to find ways to do that. Hopefully I don’t lose like this a couple more times, but I think the more times that stuff like this happens, the more I’ll learn from it.”

It is Sakkari’s sixth career Top 5-victory as she defeated Osaka for the second time in five meetings. Sakkari will face either another US Open champion, Bianca Andreescu, or Sara Sorribes Tormo for a spot in Saturday’s final.

An unsettled Osaka suffered her first loss in 14 months since she succumbed to Sorribes Tormo on the red clay of Spain in Fed Cup defeat in February of 2020.

The chiseled Greek baseliner executed a shrewd game plan: hit deep down the middle early in rallies to deny Osaka access to angles, use her speed and topspin to stretch the court and terrorize the US Open champion’s second serve at every opportunity. Sakkari spooked Osaka with aggressive return positioning winning 22 of 38 points played on the Japanese’s second serve and converting 10 of 15 break points as the Australian Open champion served just 40 percent.

Maria Sakkari scored her sixth career Top 5 victory though she said afterward it wasn’t even her top-level tennis. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

“[I was] a little bit tight in the first two games of the second set; I just believed in myself and just stayed with her and made a lot of balls and came back, broke her and held my serve,” Sakkari said. “It wasn’t something that felt weird. Of course she’s hitting big and her serve is probably the biggest one after Serena’s serve.”

Sakkari’s variety was a key to this upset—she played some timely lobs and froze her foe with a sweet drop shot—and ultimately she simply outhit one of the most assertive baseliners on Tour. Sakkari is a challenging opponent because of her lighting-quick court coverage and the disparate spins of her strokes. Sakkari can play her forehand with heavy topspin and crack a much flatter backhand and at times it looked like Osaka was facing two different opponents.

Though she’s yet to surpass the round of 16 in a Grand Slam, including a first-round loss to Kristina Mladenovic at last month’s Australian Open, Sakkari has the skills to make a deep run if she can produce the consistency and variety she showed today.