Australia’s Ash Barty will remain as the world’s No.1 following Naomi Osaka’s shock trouncing by Greece’s Maria Sakkari at the Miami Open.
Osaka’s 23-match winning streak was ended by a brilliant performance from the 25-year-old Sakkari, who defeated the Australian Open champion 6-0 6-4 in just 69 minutes in Wednesday’s quarter-finals.
It was the Japanese star’s first loss since February last year and ended any chance of her reclaiming the No.1 ranking this week from Barty, who has already made the semi-finals.
Osaka won her fourth Grand Slam title in Melbourne last month, but in five Miami appearances she has still never advanced beyond the last-eight.
Against the No.23 seed, Osaka lost 15 consecutive points on her serve to fall behind and also blew a 4-1 lead in the second set in an uneven performance that saw her face a break point in seven of her eight service games.
Sakkari, who earned her sixth career win over a top-five opponent, had only reached this stage because she saved six match points in the fourth round before beating American Jessica Pegula.
Osaka took a 40-0 lead in the opening game but didn’t win another point on her serve until the second set.
When she ended the drought, she received a big ovation from the small crowd, which she followed up with her best stretch of tennis.
But Sakkari rallied. From 40-0 down at 4-4, she won five consecutive points, hitting one last thunderous return to break before serving out coolly for the victory.
Osaka made only 41% of her first serves, with Sakkari repeatedly pouncing on her second serve to take control of rallies.