Naomi Osaka is back into the quarterfinals at the Miami Open following a 6-3, 6-4 win over Alison Riske in the Round of 16. It’s her second straight quarterfinal run at the tournament. Last year, Osaka lost to Maria Sakkari in the quarterfinals, which snapped her 23-match winning streak.
Against Riske, Osaka hit a total of 40 winners in the match en route to the win.
“It’s really funny for me, because last year here I made it to the quarters, too,” Osaka said. “It was after I won Australia and I wasn’t that grateful. I kind of expected to win.”
This year, however, has been different. After a year of trials that resulted in Osaka stepping away from the game, citing mental health, she’s taking a new approach to the game – something that she has frequently vocalized.
“This is really one of the funnest times of my life,” Osaka said. “I’m really grateful.”
She’ll next face Danielle Collins, who took down No. 8 Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-4, likely securing a top 10 spot in the world rankings. No. 2 Iga Swiatek took an easy 6-3, 6-1 win over Coco Gauff, saying she was in a “good zone.”
“I was really focused,” Swiatek said of the match. “Sometimes I have these kind of moments where I don’t even know what the score is. That’s nice, because you’re just focusing on tennis and tactics and technique.”
With three match wins under her belt, Swiatek has now won 14 matches in a row, which leads the Tour this season. She is also on track to become just the fourth player in WTA history to win at both Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back. Stefanie Graf, Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka are the three who currently hold the designation.
Also in Miami, Azarenka abruptly left the court on Sunday during her match with Czech player Linda Fruhvirtova despite leading 6-2, 3-0. In a later statement, Azarenka cited stress as her reasoning for leaving the tournament.
“I shouldn’t have gone on the court today,” she said. “The last few weeks have been extremely stressful in my personal life. Last match took so much out of me, but I wanted to play in front of a great audience as they helped me pull through my first match.
“I wanted to go out there and try but it was a mistake.”
A Belarus native, sanctions imposed on both Belarus and Russia following the Russian invasion of Ukraine have prevented the two-time Grand Slam champion from playing on Tour with the name or flag of her country. At Indian Wells, she broke down in tears during her loss to Elena Rybakina.
Also in the statement, Azarenka revealed that she intends to take a break “and be able to come back.”
“I always look forward to the challenge and pressure of competition but today it was too much,” she continued. “I have to and will learn from this.”