Miami Open: Naomi Osaka fires 13 aces to secure semifinal clash against Bencic
Miami : Former world No.1 and winner of four Grand Slams, Naomi Osaka of Japan, lost only three games in her 6-2, 6-1 victory over No.9 seed Danielle Collins of the US to make it to her maiden Miami Open semifinal on Wednesday (IST).The Florida native fired 13 aces against the Australian Open semifinalist en route to meeting defending champion Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in the last-four. With the victory, the twice US Open and two-time Australian Open winner became the second Japanese woman to reach the last-four at the Miami Open since Kimiko Date Krumm did so in 1993 and 1995.If Osaka beats Bencic in the semifinal, it will be the 24-year-old Japanese player’s first WTA 1000 final since 2020.Osaka has not lost a set en route to the Miami semifinals, having defeated Astra Sharma of Australia, Angelique Kerber of Germany, Alison Riske of the US, and No.9 seed Collins. She has now won nine of her last 10 quarterfinals and carries a strong record in semifinals into her match against Bencic, who she has yet to beat in a tour-level match, according to wtatennis.com.
“I’m glad I was able to get through quickly. I focused on trying to hit a lot of really good returns,” Osaka said following her 60-minute win. “This is actually my first night match too, so I didn’t know what the conditions would be like.”Miami will be Osaka’s 18th career semifinal, with 16 having come on her favoured hard courts. The two exceptions came on grass at 2018 Nottingham and clay at 2019 Stuttgart. Since the start of 2019, Osaka is 6-1 in contested semifinals.”After Australia, I was training really hard every day,” Osaka said. “I went to Indian Wells with the intention to do really well, and then I didn’t. But (coach) Wim (Fissette) told me, ‘listen, you’re playing really well’. But it’s hard to listen to someone tell you you’re playing well without having the results to back it up.”I’m glad that, in a way, I don’t have a good ranking, because I’m able to play the matches that I need to play. I feel like I’m the type of person that plays better with more matches, so actually having back-to-back matches benefits me a lot.” Osaka is currently ranked No. 77 in the world.
She will now turn her focus to Bencic, who has also looked in dominant form. Seeded No.22 this week, Bencic has not lost a set and has lost just 17 games across her four matches. On Wednesday, she defeated Daria Saville of Australia 6-1, 6-2.Osaka’s solitary win against Bencic came on the ITF level back in 2013. The 25-year-old Swiss has beaten Osaka in their three matches on the WTA Tour, with their last meeting coming at the 2019 US Open Round of 16.”I get really emotional when I play people around my age or younger,” Osaka said. “I don’t know if it’s like this thing that I want to be better than them, but I just automatically put a lot of pressure on myself. I kind of acknowledged that after I lost to Coco (Gauff) that one year. I’m just like, you know what? I’m at an age there is going to be a bunch of young, really good players, and I have to respect them and know that they are here for a reason. I was once in their shoes.”I think my mentality was a very big part in my losses back then. Hopefully, it will be better, because I feel like I have kind of worked through it. So hopefully on Thursday, it will be more about tennis. She’s a really good tennis player. She won the gold in Tokyo, which I really wanted to win. She’s clearly ranked where she is for a reason.”
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