“Couldn’t Find a Groove”: Naomi Osaka Reveals What Went Wrong at Miami Open 2021 Quarter-Finals

Published 04/01/2021, 12:15 PM EDT
Mar 31, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts after missing a shot against Maria Sakkari of Greece (not pictured) in a women’s singles quarterfinal in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports


Women’s tennis superstar Naomi Osaka opened up on her shocking Miami Open defeat to Greek World Number 25 Maria Sakkari, saying she hadn’t been at her best in the entire tournament.

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A strangely listless Osaka fell to an embarrassing 0-6, 4-6 loss to the big-hitting Sakkari on Wednesday.

Naomi Osaka says she hadn’t been playing at her normal level at Miami Open

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Speaking to the press later, the current World Number 2, who had a fair shot at wresting the Number 1 ranking from Australian Ashleigh Barty in the tournament, said she struggled to find her “groove” all through the last-eight clash and previous matches as well.

On her opponent, the reigning Australian Open champion said she knew the Greek would be a tough competitor going into the contest.

“She’s a really big fighter. So, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” the Japanese said.

Mar 31, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts after missing a shot against Maria Sakkari of Greece (not pictured) in a women’s singles quarterfinal in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Osaka said that despite winning her previous matches, she had a feeling that she was not playing at the level that she expects of herself.
“I felt like I haven’t been playing well this whole tournament,” she said.

Naomi Osaka lost her way from a 4-1 lead in the second set

While Osaka couldn’t win a single game in the opening set, she raced to a 4-1 lead in the second.

However, another mid-match slump saw the Greek draw level and secure another break off the World Number 2 to come away a winner.

“I couldn’t find the groove, so mentally it’s really hard for me to play against really high-quality players with what I feel is low-quality tennis,”  Osaka added.

It’s hard to explain the evident lack of intensity in her game as it was her first Tour event since the Australian Open.

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The extended break post her triumph at Melbourne Park left her short of match practice going into the event and may explain why she couldn’t find her groove in the tournament.

It’s also not clear if she was weighed down by thoughts of regaining the top rank.

DIVE DEEPER

Naomi Osaka Not too Fussed About Regaining World No.1 Spot at Miami Open 2021

about 1 month ago

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However, speaking ahead of the clash, Osaka said getting back as Number 1 was not a “straightforward goal” for her as of now as she was more focused on progressing further in the tournament.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

835 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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