Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams –– all three are greats of the game who dominated for large periods. Now, in 2021, as Naomi Osaka seeks to extend her 21 game unbeaten run, it seems we might now be living in a new era of dominance.
The Japanese born star has been in imperious form since tennis resumed after the pandemic, winning both the US Open and the Australian Open and beating names such as Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka in the process.
Having last lost a match back in February 2020, Osaka has now won four of the last six hard court grand slams, 37 of her past 40 matches on all surfaces and all four of her major finals.
Despite being ranked number two in the world, Osaka is the best player on tour right now, and there is a growing sense that she is becoming simply unbeatable. If she reaches the final in Miami this week and Ashleigh Barty fails to reach the same stage or better, then the four-time major winner will overtake the Australian in top spot.
A possible point of concern could be Osaka’s lack of playing time recently. She has managed her schedule particularly carefully, competing in just two tournaments outside of Grand Slam events since tennis resumed.
This year’s Miami field also features several top names that could be troublesome opponents for the 23-year-old. Simona Halep, Sofia Kenin and Barty are all in action, but there will be no Serena Williams to deal with after the 39-year-old pulled out of the tournament to have dental surgery.
For the time being at least though, Osaka is understandably the favourite and will meet Ajla Tomljanović in the round of 64 today. While some players have the talent to beat the world number two on their day, the seven-time WTA event winner has come through almost every test so far, and there is no reason to doubt her this time either.