As Naomi Osaka’s 23-match winning streak drew to a close, she stopped before serving to straighten her neck and study the sky, as if seeking intervention from above.
Then she continued, as did number 23 Maria Sakari, who upset Osaka with 6: 0, 6: 4 in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open.
“The more things happen, the more I will learn from them,” said Osaka, ranked No. 2.
The defeat was her first since February 2020 and ended any chance of regaining the No. 1 standings this week from Ash Barty, who is in the semifinals.
The next Sakari will play under number 8 Bianca Andrescu from Canada, who lost his serve eight times, but still surpassed the unscathed Sara Soribes Tormo with 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
“I am extremely proud of how I did tonight because it was not easy,” said Andrescu.
My body was betraying, and then my mind gave way at one point because I was just thinking how tired I was.
The other women’s semifinals on Thursday will face No. 1 Ash Barty against No. 5 Elina Svitolina.
Osaka won its fourth Australian Open Grand Slam title in February, but has never advanced since the quarterfinals in five appearances in Miami. She said she could not feel comfortable on the hard surface of the tournament.
“I felt like I hadn’t played well all this tournament, like I couldn’t find a furrow,” she said.
Against Sakari, the only Greek ranked in the top 250, Osaka lost 15 consecutive points on its serve to fall behind and lead 4-1 in the second set. She faced a breakthrough point in seven of her eight service matches.
“Service problems today came out of nowhere,” Osaka said. “My first service didn’t come in today at all.”
Sakari won her sixth career victory over a top 5 opponent. She is still in the tournament only because she saved six match points in the previous round before defeating American Jessica Pegula.
In the men’s game, 19-year-old Italian Yannick Siner won the first semifinal of the ATP Tour’s top-level tournament, defeating No. 32 Alexander Bublik 7-6 (5), 6-4.
Bublik smiled, congratulating the sinner with 21 places on the net.
“You’re not human, man,” Bublik joked.
“You’re 15 and you play like that? Good job.”
Osaka made only 41% of its first serves and paid a price because Sakari aggressively attacked the second set. Sakari also serves well and will repeatedly extend the rally until Osaka makes a mistake.
“I don’t think it was the best tennis I’ve played in my life,” Sakari said.
“I just did what I had to do.”
Osaka took a 40-0 lead in the opening game, but did not win another point on their serve until the second set. When she ended the land, she received a standing ovation from the small crowd that followed with her best tennis.
But Sakari came together. From 40-0 down, she scored five consecutive points, hitting a final thunderous comeback to break for a 5-4 lead. Then she coolly handed out the victory.
“I really had a lot of fun there,” Sakari said.