Miami Open: How did Naomi Osaka fail to become world number one?

Naomi Osaka

Four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka will not rise to number one in the world rankings after she was defeated in straight sets by Maria Sakkari in the Miami Open quarter finals.

Osaka entered this tournament on a 23-match winning run and had the potential to overtake Ashleigh Barty at the top of the rankings if she reached the final and the Australian didn’t.

The wait to cement her status as the world's best will go on, however, as the Japanese star was comfortably defeated by Greek 23rd seed, Maria Sakkari, 6-0 6-4.

This was Osaka’s first loss since February 2020, when she was beaten by Sara Sorribes Tormo at the Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers. Since then, the 23-year-old has won both the US Open and the Australian Open, beating recognised names that include Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka.

Osaka

Having never lost a Grand Slam final, Osaka is renowned for her composure, her calmness and her discipline in big matches. Yet, the reality of becoming number one seemingly got the better of her on this occasion.

Addressing this particular question, Osaka said: “It’s hard to say but I do think like the last time I was in this seat I wasn’t really thinking at all about rankings, but someone asked me that question, so then I did start to ponder about it a lot.”

Attention for Osaka now turns towards the clay court season. Despite her unrivalled dominance in recent times, it’s a surface which she has historically struggled on, having never won a title to date.

So, if the hard-court specialist wants to reach number one any time soon, she now faces an onerous task. First, she must banish the lingering thoughts of this loss and turn her attention forwards. Second, she must find a way to control her thoughts and rid her mind of rankings talk. And, most importantly, she must do what she has yet to do so far in her career and conquer her clay-court demons.

Meanwhile, Barty proved she wouldn’t give up top spot lightly, as she progressed to the Miami Open semis with a three set win over Aryna Sabalenka. The Australian will now play fifth seed, Elina Svitolina in the next round, while Sakkari faces Bianca Andreescu in the other semi final.

The final is scheduled to take place on Saturday 3rd April.

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