- 31 Mar 2021
Miami Open, quarter-final
Sakkari d. Osaka 6-0, 6-4
- The headline: Sakkari broke Osaka’s 23-match winning streak in her biggest ever win
- Other key info: Osaka is not able to regain the world No 1 spot after her first loss since February 2020
- Why you should read this story: It was Sakkari’s third win in a row against top-five opposition
Maria Sakkari achieved the biggest result of her career as she defeated world No 2 Naomi Osaka 6-0, 6-4 in the Miami Open quarter-finals on Wednesday. Osaka had started 2021 looking untouchable and embarked on this match with a 23-match winning streak behind her. After this loss, her first since February 2020, she can’t become world No 1 again after this Miami tournament.
The match only lasted 69 minutes. Before this match, Sakkari, ranked 25th in the world and the 23rd seed had won her last three matches against top-five opponents. In Miami, she continued her good form against the world’s best and walked away with a sensational victory to move into the semi-finals, where Miami she will face either Bianca Andreescu or Sara Sorribes Tormo.
— wta (@WTA) March 31, 2021
Sakkari in charge
While Osaka was well below her best, the 25-year-old Sakkari was in charge throughout. Her serve helped her dominate, the Greek winning 76 percent of points on first serve. The first set was over in just over 20 minutes, her aggressive groundstrokes and strong serving bullying Osaka into unforced errors.
During lockdown Sakkari has worked extensively on increasing her power, with the rewards of the training on full display in Miami. Alongside Sakkari’s impressive serving, her forehand shone, averaging 80mph, 20mph faster than her opponents. This underpinned an aggressive performance, the kind Sakkari has not shown before.
SAKK ATTACK 💥
— wta (@WTA) March 31, 2021
Osaka’s Comeback squashed by Sakkari
Osaka looked to have recovered when she shot out to a 3-0 lead in the second set. But after Sakkari held serve for 1-3, the result never seemed in much doubt. Osaka did have one more chance to pull away in the second set, when Sakkari found herself break point down at 4-3. In response, she bravely unleashed a huge second serve and went on to not only save the game but break Osaka’s serve in the next with an impressive return that Osaka could only put into the net. Osaka hit a backhand over the baseline to give Sakkari the victory and break Osaka’s 23-match winning run. After the game, the enjoyment was clear on Sakkari’s face as she took in her victory. At first speechless, she managed to say:
“We all know she (Osaka) is a great champion. I think I played great tennis. Holding serves, breaking her back and just making a lot of balls. It was great out there.”