NEW

Barty lets Coco through, Pliskova to meet Martic

On a wet and dreary Friday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, World No 1 Ash Barty retired from her quarter-final match against Coco Gauff, waving on the American teenager into the semis after leading by a set, while Karolina Pliskova survived 3 match...

Nadal avenges Madrid loss

Up to the quarter-final stage of the Rome Masters, Rafa Nadal could be said to have had a fairly torrid time and when he faced Alexander Zverev for a place in the last four, many expected the German, last week’s Madrid Masters winner, to maintain his winning form over...

Pliskova to meet Ostapenko in Rome quarters

Karolina Pliskova is the sole seed in the lower half of the draw and takes on Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, in the quarter-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, while Petra Martic and Jessica Pegula will contest the last quarter on Friday.

Barty cruises, Gauff stuns Sabalenka and Svitolina swats Muguruza

World No 1 Ash Barty remains on track to add the Rome title to her expanding collection but must overcome Coco Gauff in the quarter-finals, who upset Aryna Sabalenka, the Madrid champion, at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Thursday, while Elina Svitolina took out...

Nadal one point from defeat

Rafa Nadal’s invincibility on clay is being tested more regularly than you would expect and makes his forthcoming challenge at Roland Garros in a few weeks’ time, the more intriguing.

Jo Konta and Venus Williams enter Nottingham

British No 1 Johanna Konta and 10-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams will headline this year’s Nottingham Open field, the first of the returning LTA summer grass court events.

Osaka leads march of seeds out of Rome

On a day of major upsets at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, the underdogs prevailed, seeing off seeds Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep, Sofia Kenin, Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova, and Maria Sakkari in a procession of upsets at the Foro Italico in Rome.

Nadal back on track

Rafa Nadal, playing his first match at the Foro Italico following his quarter-final loss to Alexander Zverev at last week’s Madrid Masters, declared himself happy with his performance in overcoming Jannik Sinner in straight sets, but not so with the scheduling by the...

Konta follows Bencic and Mertens out of Rome

Seeds started to tumble at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, with Belinda Bencic and Elise Mertens followed out of the draw by Jo Konta, while Garbiñe Muguruza and Angelique Kerber were among those to win through on Tuesday.

Kvitova, Brady, Swiatek and Sakkari open Rome accounts

The Internazionali BNL d’Italia got under way at the Foro Italico in Rome on Monday, with some of the seeds in action and coming through unscathed, although Petra Kvitova had to come from a set down against Magda Linette to advance, while Jennifer Brady won in...
Tennis News, Tennis Results, Live Tennis Scores & Interviews

Sakkari snaps Osaka streak to play Andreescu in Miami semis

Naomi Osaka, the Australian and US Open champion who has not lost a match since February 2020, swallowed the bitter pill of defeat when Maria Sakkari beat her in straight sets at the Miami Open presented by Itaú on Wednesday, bringing an end to the Japanese’s 23-match winning run.

I felt like I was getting there. I felt that even though it wasn't like pretty tennis—like, I like to try to play perfectly, but, you know, that doesn't really happen most of the time, so I thought even though it wasn't pretty tennis, I was trying to find a way to win the set. Naomi Osaka

Sakkari stopped the World No 2 in her tracks, 6-0 6-4, needing only 69 minutes to secure her spot in the semi-finals where the Greek will meet Canada’s Bianca Andreescu.

Osaka’s last loss was to Sara Sorribes Tormo, 6-0 6-3, back in last February’s Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers, and, ironically, the Spaniard also lost on Wednesday in the quarter-finals to the Canadian, 6-4 3-6 6-3.

After failing to win a game in the opening set, Osaka, the No 2 seed in Miami, took a 3-0 lead in the second, but Sakkari, seeded 23, recovered her form to take 6 of the next 7 games on her way to an emphatic victory.

Sakkari’s ability to apply pressure to Osaka’s second serve with her returns was the key to the match.

These penetrated the Japanese defence and were frequently untouchable, while Sakkari also drew the former World No 1 into uncomfortably long rallies.

In all, Sakkari delivered an impeccable performance, striking 22 winners when Osaka committed 23 unforced errors and could only find 5 winners.

“I don’t think tennis-wise it was like the best tennis I have ever played in my life,” said Sakkari. “I think I executed our strategy with Tom [Hill, her coach] really well.

“I just did what I had to do. I’m not gonna tell you what. What we discussed before the match, I just did it most of the match, except maybe a couple of games where things didn’t go right.”

The Greek, who had escaped 6 match points against American Jessica Pegula in the previous round, has spoken about working on aggressive tactics while rediscovering her on-court identity in Miami.

Her improvement is illustrated in her recent record against elite opposition as she notched up the 6th Top 5 win of her career, and 4th in a row.

“I would say that it’s for sure one of the biggest ones [wins],” she said. “I think also beating Serena was equally big.”


Naomi Osaka had few answers for Maria Sakkari and lost her first match since February 2020 on Wednesday

© Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Heading into the match, Osaka was the clear favourite, fresh off winning her 4th major title and on a 23-match winning streak, but after 418 unbeaten days, it proved to be Sakkari’s day.

The opening set was astonishing, with 2 clean return winners from Sakkari enabling her to break Osaka from 40-0 up in the first game and, having set the tone, the 25-year-old didn’t look back.

Continuing to tee off on her opponent’s second serve, Sakkari dropped just 8 points in the set, and just one double-fault behind her own delivery.

A shellshocked Osaka was almost entirely unable to find the court, contributing 12 unforced errors in 34 points, frequently within the first shot or two of a rally.

The result was the 15th bagel set Osaka has received in her professional career, and 8th at WTA or Billie Jean King Cup level, but going on to win 4 of those matches.

Committing to longer rallies and finding more first serves, Osaka saved a total of 6 break points in her first 2 service games of the second and, in between them, she broke Sakkari to take control of the scoreboard.

“I felt like I was getting there,” said Osaka. “I felt that even though it wasn’t like pretty tennis—like, I like to try to play perfectly, but, you know, that doesn’t really happen most of the time, so I thought even though it wasn’t pretty tennis, I was trying to find a way to win the set.”

Her backhand was firing, while Sakkari’s aggressive strategy was now resulting in over-pressing mistakes, but despite Osaka raising her game, the Greek refused to let the set get away from her just as the Japanese lost focus.

A blitzed backhand winner enabled the Greek to break back for 3-4, coming back from 40-0 down, and from then on Sakkari began to dominate again.

A tentative Osaka was unable to execute with her usual power and, serving at 4-4 and in control of the point, she opted to carefully steer her backhand from line to line instead of hitting out on it.

Sakkari duly punished this with a pinpoint lob, and went on to break by unleashing on a backhand return.

“I just had a little bit of time in the changeover [down 1-4] and thought about the strategy again,” said Sakkari. “I think I lost that a little bit in the beginning of the second set.

“So focusing on my strategy was the key. I knew that if I can break her back, then I can serve clever and I can serve the right way to just come back and win the second set, as well.”

The world No 25 is through to the semi-finals for the first time at a WTA 1000 event, and planned to celebrate her upset win with a nice dinner and a game of Monopoly.

“For sure we are just going to enjoy it with my team, and then back to work. That’s our routine, every day,” the 25-year-old said.

Osaka’s bad day at the office was underscored by her subpar 41% first serve percentage for the match.

“Yeah, definitely my serve wasn’t, my first serve wasn’t going in at all today,” admitted Osaka.  “I’m not really sure if it’s technical. I don’t think so, just because I felt like technique-wise I have been getting better.

“I also feel like with Wim we always do, like, serve practices, and the rhythm at this tournament was pretty good. So for me I felt like today’s service problems kind of came out of nowhere.”


Bianca Andreescu outlasted Sara Sorribes Tormo to reach the Miami semi-finals

© Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Sakkari’s next opponent is Andreescu, who outlasted Sorribes Tormo to reach her spot int the Miami semi-finals in another 3-set battle for the Canadian, 6-4 3-6 6-3.

“The main thing today was fighting harder than her,” she explained after the 2 hour, 35 minute slugfest.

“I say that a lot, but I know that she is an incredible fighter, so that was the main goal and I did that.”

Despite the 15-month absence, the 20-year-old is into her second semi-final after Wednesday night’s battle that left her doubled over at the net but still able to share a smile with her otherwise unflappable opponent.

“She plays very different than most of the players on tour,” she added. “She’s difficult to play because of that. You don’t always get the same rhythm. She gets to a lot of balls.

“That’s what I told her at the net. I was, like, ‘Girl, you can run. You’re crazy!’”

Sorribes Tormo is one of the tour’s fastest-rising talents, one who employed a mix of heavy spin and relentless athleticism to already outfox 3 seeds en route to the biggest quarter-final of her career, upsetting Australian Open runner-up Jennifer Brady, the 13th-seeded American, Kazakstan’s Elena Rybakina (21), and Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur (27), all in 3 sets.

Andreescu battled back from a 3-0, double-break deficit to seal the opening set, but a string of 7 straight breaks in the second saw her taken the distance for the 3rd time in 4 matches this week.

In set two, Sorribes Tormo’s decisive service hold came by winning 2 straight points at 30-30, as a 23-shot rally, ended when an Andreescu forehand found the net, sealed the game in her favour.

The Spaniard broke for a 4th and final time to push the match to a decider,

“The match was just super up and down, like at one point she was on fire, and then I was on fire, and it just kept going like that. It could have been either one of our matches,” Andreescu said.

Consolidating after another marathon game, the Canadian shrugged off a late break and obvious exhaustion as she served for the match, and remained keenly attuned to her opportunities as she smacked a forehand return to pull up match point.

In the last long rally, Andreescu camped in the middle of the court, running Sorribes Tormo side to side before putting away her 42nd winner to complete Miami’s semi-final line-up.

“For me it shows that I can get through those tough moments,” she said. “Today my body was giving out, and then my mind gave out at one point because I was just thinking about how tired I was, and then it’s just like, ‘How do I regroup?’

“That’s kind of what happened the last couple of matches, too, super long three-setters.”


Sara Sorribes Tormo is one of the tour’s fastest-rising talents but she was unable to get past Bianca Andreescu on Wednesday

© Michael Reaves/Getty Images

In all, the Canadian struck 42 winners, more than double Sorribes Tormo’s total of 17, but also totalled 42 unforced errors to the Spaniard’s 21, while the two combined to break serve 17 times in the match.

Andreescu’s praise for the Spaniard, who will crack the Top 50 as a result of her best-ever performance at a WTA 1000 event, continued in her post-match press conference.

“She doesn’t give you pace at all,” observed Andreescu. “With those high, heavy balls, you really have to generate your own pace. That consists of a lot of leg power, arm power, you’re putting your all into it, because if you just give, like, a ball with nothing on it, she’s going to take advantage of that.”

Andreescu was coming off the biggest win of her comeback, and though decidedly out of sorts to kick off her quarter-final, she was happy to report the groin injury suffered earlier in the event against Amanda Anisimova had largely faded.

“I played a lot of matches, but I’m going to get the right treatment, gonna get some good sleeps in. There is no pain anywhere, so I’m feeling good.”

There will be no break, however, as she faces Sakkari in the second semi-final on Thursday.

“I watched a little bit of that match [against Osaka]. She played really well. Like, she was just dominating right from the start. Naomi wasn’t quite there,” Andreescu said.

“She’s coming off a great win. I mean, I’m coming off a pretty great win too, but I’m sure she’s very confident, and I have watched her play many, many times so I kind of know what to expect, but obviously it’s different once I step out there.

“I’m just gonna have to adjust with what I know now and what I am going to see on the court. But I know it’s going to be a battle, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

The first semi-final will be played at 6pm BST between top seed Ash Barty from Australia and the No 5 seed, Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, which can be viewed live or on replay on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.



Previous

Next

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.