•Osaka, the reigning U.S. Open and Australian Open champion whose last loss came in February 2020, was beaten 6-0 6-4 by Greek 23rd seed Maria Sakkari
•“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,”—Osaka
Naomi Osaka had grown so accustomed to dominating that she was not immediately sure what lessons to take after her 23-match winning streak came to an abrupt end in quarter-final action at the Miami Open on Wednesday.
Osaka, the reigning U.S. Open and Australian Open champion whose last loss came in February 2020, was beaten 6-0 6-4 by Greek 23rd seed Maria Sakkari.
“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,” Osaka said.
“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.”
The Japanese second seed’s early exit also ended any hopes she had of reclaiming the world number one ranking from Australian Ash Barty, who has moved into the Miami semi-finals.
For the first time since the WTA Tour resumed play last July, the top ranking could have changed hands in Miami but for that to happen Osaka needed to at least reach the final.
Osaka, who has looked calm and collected in several high-pressure situations on court while winning four Grand Slam titles, admitted that all the talk about rankings may have gotten the better of her.
“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,” said Osaka.
“So maybe unwillingly that put pressure on myself. But I feel like even if it did, I should be able to rise above that.”
Elsewhere, world number four Dominic Thiem said he is not yet fully fit and is skipping this month’s ATP Masters 1000 event in Monaco.
The U.S. Open champion opted out of the ongoing Miami Masters and has not played since making an early exit at the ATP 500 event in Dubai last month.
The 27-year-old had targeted the European clay court season to return after struggling with a foot problem recently.
“After Doha and Dubai I needed a break,” Thiem said. “I’m not at 100 per cent yet. I’m so sorry, I would have loved to play in Monte Carlo, but it won’t work out.”
Thiem, who won his maiden Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows last year, began the 2021 season with one win in two matches at the ATP Cup before exiting the Australian Open in the fourth round.
After Melbourne, his desert swing also ended in disappointment with defeat to South African qualifier Lloyd Harris in his opening match in Dubai, which came after a quarter-final exit in Doha last week.
Thiem said he will be practising on clay at home in Austria during the Monte Carlo event. “I’m having tough weeks ahead of me, I have a lot of work to do,” he added.