The Madrid Open has apologized for a series of miscues in which the women’s stars received unequal treatment compared to the men’s players.

The women’s doubles finalists — including runners-up Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula as well as champions Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia — did not receive the opportunity to make the traditional post-match speeches, even though the men’s doubles finalists did.

“Did I think we were not going to be able to speak? No. I’ve never heard of that, like, in my life,” Pegula said Tuesday. “Even in a $10,000 Challenger final you would speak. I don’t know what century everyone was living in when they made that decision or how they actually had a conversation and decided, ‘Wow, this is a great decision we’re going to do and there’s going to be no backlash against this’.”

Gauff took to Twitter after the situation, essentially giving what would have been her speech on social media.

“Wasn’t given the chance to speak after the final today:( But thank you to the fans for supporting us and women’s tennis this week! Thanks @JLPegula for always keeping it fun on the court and hitting unreal clutch shots hahahaha Lastly, big congratulations Vika and Bia,” she wrote.

“Also thanks to my team and Jess’s team of course! Also for the ball kids, tournament staff, and everyone else who works hard behind the scenes. Twitter format doesn’t allow me to say everything I would’ve said during the speech if we had one. But just wanted to say I’m thankful.”

Azarenka also criticized the tournament organizers for the decision.

“What happened in terms of doubles was completely unacceptable,” Azarenka said Thursday. “There’s a lot of conversations, obviously, internally, of what happened and I want to see how that develops and what are the consequences of those decisions. So that’s why I don’t want to make too many comments. I believe to give people the opportunity to figure out what’s the best course of action. Do I think it’s unacceptable? It’s absolutely unacceptable.”

Yet the canceled speeches were just the final straw, capping off an inauspicious week for the tournament filled with charges of sexism.

The revealing outfits worn by ball girls prompted criticism of the tournament organizers, as did birthday cakes presented to men’s and women’s champions, which differed dramatically in size. Meanwhile, world No. 1 Iga Swiatek was scheduled to play in the early hours on Saturday morning.

The organizers of the tournament released a statement apologizing to players and fans on Thursday.

“We sincerely apologize to all the players and fans who expect more of the Mutua Madrid Open tournament,” chief executive Gerard Tsobanian said. “Not giving our women’s doubles finalists the chance to address their fans at the end of the match was unacceptable, and we have apologised directly to Victoria [Azarenka], Beatriz [Haddad Maia], Coco [Gauff] and Jessica [Pegula].

“We are working internally and with the WTA to review our protocols and are committed to improving our process moving forward. We made a mistake and this will not ever happen again.”

The WTA already had indicated that it would investigate the Madrid Open, which ran over two weeks this year for the first time. The tournament is run by sports super-agency IMG.

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.”

The US Open kicks off this week in New York City with a full house of spectators expected to attend. Fans won’t have the honor of watching either of the Williams sisters take the court, as both have withdrawn due to injury. But with Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka both in top form, viewers will be witness to two young stars whose zeniths could finally collide on the grand stage — if they can survive the array of talented competitors that stand in their way.

Here’s who to watch in New York during tennis’ final Grand Slam of the year:

The Favorites

Australia’s Ash Barty is heading into the US Open with all the momentum one could hope for at this point in the North American hard-court season.

The world #1 in rankings recently became the first player to claim five WTA singles titles in a single season since Serena Williams did it in 2014. That fifth trophy came last week at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, where Barty worked her way through several Grand Slam contenders on her way to the title, including Victoria Azarenka, Barbora Krejcikova, and Angelique Kerber. When the 25-year-old won Wimbledon earlier this summer she proved her inaugural Grand Slam title at the 2019 French Open and subsequent number one ranking that persisted through the strange landscape of the pandemic were no fluke. But she has yet to reach the finals rounds of a US Open. Having lost in the round of 16 in both 2018 and 2019 and then opted out in 2020 due to the pandemic, she is poised to make a very deep run this week in New York.

The woman most likely to rain on the 2021 Barty parade is none other than Naomi Osaka. While her trajectory this year has been much more of a roller coaster, she has four hard-court Grand Slam titles to Barty’s zero. Out of the last four Grand Slam tournaments held, Osaka won the first two and then either withdrew or opted out of the next two. She hasn’t lost a single Grand Slam match since January 2020 at the Australian Open, way back in the Before-COVID-Times. Both she and Barty lost early at the Tokyo Olympics, but Osaka also lost in the round of 16 at the Western & Southern Open. Off the court, she continues to figure out how and whether she wants to meet current expectations of a highly publicized life. Only she knows the extent to which those struggles may be impacting her play.

Barty and Osaka are tied 2-2 in head-to-head matches. Even though Osaka dropped a spot from #2 to #3 in overall rankings last week, her and Barty are fortunately on opposite sides of the bracket. Even with a rocky lead up to the last Grand Slam of the year, Osaka is a proven champion with a stellar hard-court record and has a solid claim to the title of best women’s player in the world. Cheers to the tennis gods for a draw that leaves the door open for a Barty v. Osaka US Open final.

Contenders with momentum on their side

One of the most exciting players of 2021 has been Barbora Krejcikova. The 25-year-old from the Czech Republic just recently broke into the top ten and currently sits #9 overall, by far her best ranking in singles.

Krejcikova entered 2021 with two Grand Slam doubles titles from the 2018 French Open and 2018 Wimbledon and has watched her singles success finally take off. This year, she has won three WTA singles titles, including her first Grand Slam at the French Open. She also managed to capture her second French Open doubles championship that same week and then followed that up with a gold medal in doubles at the Tokyo Olympics. While the clay court seems to suit her well, she’s proving the hard court fits nicely too. She won the first hard-court tournament of the year at the Livesport Prague Open and made it to quarters of the Western & Southern Open before losing to Barty. 

In the #12 spot in WTA rankings, Swiss player Belinda Bencic is also enjoying a breakout 2021. Having won the Olympic singles gold medal and then following it up with a strong run at the Western & Southern Open where she lost in the quarters, Bencic is looking like a solid threat as she heads into her strongest Grand Slam event.

Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber are another two to keep your eye on. Pliskova has gone deep in the two hard-court lead-up tournaments to the US Open and was on the opposite side of the net to Barty in the Wimbledon final. Having made it to the quarters, semis, or final of a Grand Slam eight times, she appears to be on the precipice of finally tipping that scale. Kerber, on the other hand, has experienced Grand Slam title glory three times in her career and with appearances in this year’s Wimbledon semis and the Western & Southern Open semis, she is definitely a threat.

The Question Marks

Aryna Sabalenka, the woman who just surpassed Osaka to claim the #2 overall ranking, is still a bit of an unknown heading into New York. She put her name on the map this summer by making it to the semis of Wimbledon and she also got to the semis of one hard-court tourney early in August, but lost in the first round of another. Whether the 23-year-old from Belarus has something special in store for New York is a bit of a guess.

Bianca Andreescu hasn’t had the strong return from injury that many were looking forward to during this hard-court season. The 2019 US Open champion has had a rough showing for 2021, and her recent hard-court tournaments have been no exception. But at only 21 years old and with a new coach on board she has plenty of time to back up her 2019 victory even if it’s not imminent.

Veterans Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka will also need a bit of luck on their side in order to make a strong run this week. With injuries and early exists from lead-in tournaments, the stars don’t seem to be aligned for either of the two-time Grand Slam champions. 

US Open first-round play begins Monday, Aug. 30 and continues until the two women left standing face off for the title at 4pm ET on Saturday, September 11th.

Naomi Osaka found herself in unfamiliar territory this weekend when she was knocked out of the Mutua Madrid Open early in the second round.

Her opponent Karolina Muchova had a commanding first set, beating Osaka 6-4 and going up a break early in the second.

Never one to give up, Osaka clawed her way back into the match, winning five straight games to claim the second set 6-3.

After losing momentum to Osaka, Muchova regained her confidence in the deciding set. Moving seamlessly on the clay surface, Muchova took the third set 6-1.

On the same day, Victoria Azarenka announced that she will pull out of Madrid to tend to a nagging lower back injury.

With Naomi Osaka and Azarenka out early, the women’s draw in Madrid has opened up considerably.

While other stars falter, former Madrid Champion Simona Halep is emerging as an early favorite after her commanding 6-0, 6-4 win over Saisai Zheng.

She will play the winner of the Mertens, Rybakina match in the round of sixteen.