Miami: 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 US 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.”
Meanwhile, Alexander Bublik tried everything to unsettle Jannik Sinner but with the Italian teenager keeping his composure to win 7-6(5), 6-4 the Kazakh was left convinced he had been beaten by a robot.
Bublik used underarm serves, drop shots and a sneak-attack serve return against Sinner during the quarter-final of the ATP Masters 1000 event but fell to his second straight defeat to the 19-year-old following a loss in Dubai in mid-March.
“You are not a human,” Bublik told Sinner at the net after the Italian had wrapped up the match. “You are 15-years-old and you play like this. Good job.”
Daniil Medvedev (RUS x1) bt Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-4, 6-3
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x7) bt John Isner (USA x18) 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (9/7)
Jannik Sinner (ITA x21) bt Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-3, 6-2
Alexander Bublik (KAZ x32) bt Taylor Fritz (USA x22) 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-4
Hubert Hurkacz (POL x26) bt Milos Raonic (CAN x12) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)
Sebastian Korda (USA) bt Diego Schwartzman (ARG x5) 6-3, 4-6, 7-5
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x2) bt Lorenzo Sonego (ITA x24) 6-2, 7-6 (7/2)
Andrey Rublev (RUS x4) bt Marin Cilic (CRO) 6-4, 6-4
Ashleigh Barty (AUS x1) bt Aryna Sabalenka (BLR x7) 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3
Elina Svitolina (UKR x5) bt Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-3, 6-2