Naomi Osaka sweeps aside idol Serena Williams in Miami Open

Naomi Osaka is in the form of her life.In the past fortnight, four current and former world No. 1s have entere...

Posted: Mar 22, 2018 2:57 PM
Updated: Mar 22, 2018 2:57 PM

Naomi Osaka is in the form of her life.

In the past fortnight, four current and former world No. 1s have entered her path, and four have fallen by the wayside.

Osaka stuns Serena in first round of Miami Open

Japan star enjoying rich vein of form

Serena draw prompted controversy over protected seedings after maternity leave

And if the manner in which the young Japanese star stormed to her first major title in Indian Wells last week was impressive, what stood out on Wednesday was the confidence and style with which she swept aside Serena Williams at the Miami Open.

Osaka had never faced Williams before, but -- like so many players of her generation -- had grown up idolizing the American.

"I was extremely nervous coming on to the court. I don't know if anybody knows this but Serena is my favorite player," Osaka said after the match.

"So just playing against her is kind of like a dream for me. I'm very grateful I was able to play her and it is even better that I was able to win."

The match lasted just 77 minutes as the 20-year-old stormed to victory over the 23-time grand slam winner in straight sets, 6-3 6-2.

'I wanted her to know who I am'

For Osaka, the blueprint for victory was simple, and it was looking straight back at her from the other side of the net.

"Sometimes when I am in a really hard position when I'm serving, I'm like, `What would Serena do?'" Osaka explained.

"It's weird if you grow up watching someone and wanting to be exactly like them and then you have the chance to play them," she explained.

"It's sort of this respect thing, but you also want to win really bad. I don't really know how to describe it. I just wanted her to, in the end, like after the match, just know who I am and stuff."

It's fair to say if she didn't know before, Williams certainly knows who Osaka is now. The Japanese player has had quite the year -- a 14-4 winning record in 2018, rising 50 ranking places to 22 in the world in less than two months.

Appropriately born in Osaka, Japan, the 20-year-old now resides in Florida, recently teaming up with Caroline Wozniacki's former coach, Sascha Bajin.

Given the dearth of success for Japan in the women's game, Osaka has also captured the attention of the country, which has not produced a female player in the world top 10 since 2004.

A tough route back to the top

On Serena's part, back-to-back defeats may be hard to bear -- she left the court without addressing the media -- but she was gracious in defeat, smiling and congratulating Osaka on her well-earned victory.

Many commentators, including tournament director James Blake, had pointed to Serena's tough opening draw as a fault in the tennis system as the American returns from pregnancy.

With no protection given to her previous No. 1 ranking, Serena's year out of the game has seen her drop to 491 in the world, leaving her unseeded and facing an arduous route back to the top.

Osaka became the lowest ranked player ever to beat Serena in Miami, which perhaps says as much about the 36-year-old's consistent brilliance as it does about the shock of Osaka's victory.

She now faces world No. 4 Elina Svitolina in the second round on Friday.

Sharapova opens up on injury

En route to her Indian Wells triumph, Osaka's first victim was Maria Sharapova, who has announced she is taking some time out of the game in order to recover from injury.

Responding to a tweet from a fan who felt aggrieved about her pulling out of Russia's upcoming FED Cup tie, five-time grand slam champion Sharapova detailed the extent of her injuries, which include an air pocket in her lung, which is currently preventing her from flying.

"I don't sign up to anything in my career unless I am fully committed to it," she tweeted.

"Besides numbing my left forearm 30 minutes before my first match at Indian Wells in order to get through the match without any recurring pain I have had in past months, I also found out I had an air pocket in my lung from which I wasn't allowed to fly for 3 weeks from first findings, per doctors, until it healed."

She added: "I will be doing everything I can to get healthy, fit and ready to compete."

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2514422

Reported Deaths: 56038
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings33302810840
Queens31485510285
Suffolk2388013596
Nassau2139053290
Bronx2073266748
New York1677674635
Westchester1434812338
Erie1057911944
Richmond887311933
Monroe838301183
Orange57344909
Rockland52979779
Onondaga51689758
Dutchess35490497
Albany30633388
Oneida28461585
Broome24233404
Niagara23884397
Saratoga20111198
Ulster17224278
Schenectady16592227
Rensselaer14692167
Putnam1244896
Chautauqua12318174
Oswego11556112
Chemung10798154
St. Lawrence10424126
Steuben10037173
Ontario9296110
Jefferson874874
Cayuga8613107
Sullivan843183
Wayne810384
Cattaraugus7622113
Genesee6945132
Herkimer6741128
Clinton666538
Tompkins647559
Fulton6258102
Madison6138102
Montgomery5890139
Livingston568071
Warren540782
Cortland531379
Tioga503671
Columbia4984111
Chenango465786
Allegany457196
Washington456467
Otsego454154
Greene435386
Wyoming434958
Orleans429487
Franklin423320
Lewis357138
Delaware352947
Seneca272563
Schoharie227721
Essex226831
Yates161028
Schuyler152417
Hamilton4353
Unassigned14826
Out of NY0311
Utica
Partly Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 51°
Oneonta
Partly Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 56°
Herkimer
Partly Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 51°
Old Forge
Partly Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 51°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Game Day Deals - New Deals Each Week
Chapter Aesthetic October Giveaway
Cool To Be Kind 2021
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve