For Naomi Osaka, Her Five-Way Battle To Stay At No.1 Continues In Miami - UBITENNIS
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For Naomi Osaka, Her Five-Way Battle To Stay At No.1 Continues In Miami

Five players and one position – here are the different scenarios Osaka and her rivals are facing in Miami.

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Naomi Osaka (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Once again, there is more than a hefty amount of prize money at stake for Naomi Osaka as she enters the Miami Open.

 

The two-time grand slam champion is targeting a strong run at the Hard Rock Stadium in order to maintain her place as the top ranked player on the WTA Tour. Osaka became Asia’s first ever No.1 on January 28th following her Australian Open triumph. However, since then she has failed to reach the quarter-finals at two consecutive tournaments. Losing in the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships to Kristina Mladenovic, and in the fourth round of Indian Wells to Belinda Bencic.

“Miami is a tournament that I grew up watching. Since I live in South Florida, I literally went to the venue and watched all the pros, and I always wanted to be like them. I’m fortunate enough to be in this situation now.” Osaka said after her loss to Bencic.

A total of five players have a shot of becoming world No.1 by the time the tournament ends. The most straightforward way for Osaka to maintain her top spot is by reaching the final in Miami. This year will be her four main draw appearance in the tournament, but she is yet to progress beyond the third round and has lost in the second round the past two years. Osaka can also remain No.1 if she reaches the quarter-finals and Simona Halep or Petra Kvitova doesn’t win the title.

Kvitova has already been agonisingly close to the top spot. Losing in the final of the Australian Open to Osaka in a match where the winner became world No.1. The Czech can claim the position by winning the tournament. If she reaches the final, she needs Osaka to lose before the fourth round.

https://twitter.com/Petra_Kvitova/status/1107400247322570753

Kvitova has already contested two finals this year, but Miami is statistically her worst performing Premier Mandatory event. Heading into this year, she has only won 50% (9/18) of matches player. She has never been further than the Quarter-final in Miami back in 2014. Although the Czech will be hoping the change of venue (Key Biscayne to Hard Rock Stadium) will play in her favour.

Halep has achieved a win-loss of 12-5 so far this season, but she is yet to win a title. The Romanian’s chances of claiming the top spot is resting very much on how her other competitors perform. Should she reach her maiden Miami final, she would need Osaka to lose before the third round and both Kerber and Kvitova to not win the title.

Kerber has already spent a total of 34 weeks as the queen of the WTA rankings. Fresh off reaching the final in Indian Wells, which she lost to Bianca Andreescu, the German is hoping to continue her momentum. However, to dethrone Osaka she is required to win the title to have a chance. On top of that, Osaka must lose before the third round.

“Miami, it’s a new tournament completely. The conditions are completely different. Everything starts from zero.” Said Kerber.
“I’m really looking forward because for me, it’s the first time there with the new venue and everything.” She added.

Finally, Elina Svitolina is also required to win the tournament is she wants to become world No.1. Furthermore, she needs Osaka to not win a match and Kvitova to reach the final. A tough ask, but the women’s game is known for its unpredictability.

In the draw, all seeded players have a bye in the first round.

Race to No.1

R128
R64
R32
R16
QF
SF
FNL
CHAMP
player
Osaka  5966
5991
6021 6076 6171 6346 6606 6956
Kviotova  5440
5465
5495 5550 5645 5820 6080 6340
Halep 5402
5427
5457 5512 5607 5782 6042 6392
Kerber
 5110
5135
5165 5220 5315 5490 5750 6100
Svitolina
 5020
5045
5075 5130 5225 5400 5660 6010

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Is Iga Swiatek On Her Way To Becoming A Roland Garros Legend?

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Rafa Nadal couldn’t have done it better.

 

There was Iga Swiatek dominating another top 10 opponent on the court Rafa loves so much, while her favourite player is still sidelined by hip surgery and expects his legendary career to come to a close next year.

Indeed, Swiatek may be on her way to becoming a legend herself on Court Philippe Chatrier at the French Open. The Polish Wonder already owns two titles at Roland Garros and is in line to possibly win two more matches there over the next three days for a third French title.

Of course, that’s a long way from the number of titles Nadal has won in the Paris Grand Slam. Fourteen titles sound like an out-of-reach dream for anyone to capture at the same Grand Slam, even the 22-year-old Swiatek.

SWIATEK ON HER GAME

The top-ranked Swiatek was on her game in Wednesday’s quarterfinals, starting strong and then winning nine of the last 12 games against young Coco Gauff in a 6-4, 6-2 win over last year’s runner-up.

Gauff played her usual aggressive game, but at times appeared to go for too much too often. She appeared to overpower Swiatek at times with her big serve, but only on first serves. Otherwise, the 19-year-old American didn’t seem to have her weapons under control much of the match.

IGA ALWAYS APPEARS TO BE READY

No one in the women’s game anticipates better than Swiatek. She always appears to be ready for the next shot.

Opponents can never count Iga out. And allowing her to get ahead in a match is almost like turning over the controls to Swiatek, who already owns three Grand Slam titles and has now advanced to the semifinals in four of her last six Grand Slams.

Swiatek jumped out to a 3-1 lead against the sixth-ranked Gauff, then dropped a pair of games before taking full charge of the match.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Roland Garros Daily Preview: The Women’s Semifinals

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Iga Swiatek doing her best Hulk Hogan impression on Wednesday (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

Are we just one round away from World No.1 Iga Swiatek facing World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka in a humungous women’s final?

 

On Thursday in Paris, Swiatek and Sabalenka are both favorites to win their semifinals.  But Beatriz Haddad Maia and Karolina Muchova both provide challenging styles of play, and their chances should not be overlooked.

Also, the mixed doubles championship match will be staged, featuring an inspiring redemption story, and the 2019 US Open women’s singles champion.


Karolina Muchova vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Not Before 3:00pm on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Sabalenka is 34-5 this season, and is vying for her sixth final of the year, and her 13th consecutive win at a Major.  After losing her first three Slam semifinals, all by the score of 6-4 in the third, she broke through this past January in Melbourne with a straight-set victory over Magda Linette.  Aryna has claimed all 10 sets she’s played this fortnight.

Muchova is 22-7 on the year, and is into the second Major semifinal of her career.  She first achieved this feat two years ago at the Australian Open, when she lost a three-set semifinal to Jennifer Brady.  Karolina has dropped one set to this stage, and notably upset another Roland Garros semifinalist, Maria Sakkari, in the first round.

They’ve only played once before, four years ago on a hard court in Zhuhai, with Sabalenka prevailing in a tight two-setter.  Muchova’s variety is often quite effective in disrupting her opponents.  But based on the confidence Aryna has been playing with, her huge game makes her the favorite to reach a second consecutive Major final.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Beatriz Haddad Maia (14) – Last on Court Philippe Chatrier

Swiatek is 33-6 in 2023, and is looking for her fifth final of the season.  She is 17-2 on clay this year, and 26-2 lifetime at Roland Garros.  And Iga has been completely dominant this fortnight, losing only 17 games across nine sets.  She holds a 3-1 record in Major semifinals.

This is entirely new territory for Haddad Maia.  Prior to this tournament, she was 0-7 in the second round of Slams.  But she’s now 22-11 this year, after winning four consecutive three-setters at this event, and upsetting Ons Jabeur on Wednesday.

Beatriz is actually 1-0 against Iga, having defeated her 7-5 in the third last summer in Toronto.  She utilizes her lefty-ness well, and was intelligently aggressive during pivotal times of her match against Jabeur.  But on this surface, and in a match of this magnitude, Swiatek is a considerable favorite to reach her third Roland Garros final.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Miyu Kato and Tim Puetz vs. Bianca Andreescu and Michael Venus – Kato was defaulted from the women’s doubles draw after hitting a ball girl with a ball, but has owned that error and earned a lot of goodwill in the process.  This is a first Major final in any discipline for Kati and Puetz, while Venus won the men’s doubles title at this event six years ago, and Andreescu’s resume is well-documented.


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Iga Swiatek Downs Gauff To Set Haddad Maia Semi-Final At Roland Garros

Iga Swiatek reaches her third Roland Garros semi-final with a straight sets win over Coco Gauff.

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Iga Swiatek (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

World number one Iga Swiatek is into the semi-finals at Roland Garros for a third time after defeating Coco Gauff 6-4 6-2.

 

The Pole extended her head-to-head over the American to 7-0 and 14-0 in sets as her title defence will continue into the final four.

It was a valiant effort by the American but ultimately fell short of reaching the semi-finals for a second consecutive year.

Next for Swiatek is Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia, who defeated Ons Jabeur in the quarter-finals.

It was a positive start from Gauff as she played aggressive, smart tennis from the beginning to test Swiatek from the baseline.

However the Pole edged to a couple of service holds and would break to love in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead as her returning quality showed.

Gauff provided an immediate response in the next game to break back as she tested Swiatek’s rally tolerance and tested the Pole’s defensive rustiness.

The American was holding onto her service games despite producing below 40% of her first serves.

Swiatek continued to find big points in pressure moments as Gauff was producing some big shots on pressure points.

In the end the Pole’s returning presence and quality showed as she broke for the set with Gauff producing a number of errors.

There was a slight moment of hope for the American at the start of the second set as she overcame the poor end to the first set with some effective point construction.

Last year’s finalist set up three break points but made some fairly erratic errors as any hopes of a comeback were snuffed out.

Swiatek remained aggressive, proactive and produced world-class depth to take advantage of Gauff’s error-prone game.

The Pole’s level of play intensified and improved as she sealed too late breaks of serve in impressive fashion as she claimed victory in 90 minutes.

Speaking after the match Swiatek said the match wasn’t easy but was happy to get through, “For sure, it wasn’t easy – the first set, especially, was really tight and Coco was really using the conditions here,” Swiatek was quoted by the BBC as saying.

“I’m pretty happy I was able to work on it and win this match because quarter-finals are sometimes the toughest matches. Even though Coco is young, she is experienced so I’m pretty happy to be in the semi-final.

“We play many tournaments in the year where we have to play day after day but I’m pretty fresh because, as you saw in previous matches. I didn’t really spend too much time on court so I’m actually happy today was a tighter match.

“I will be ready no matter what and not having a day off was something that I knew since the beginning of the tournament so I am ready for this situation.”

Another tough loss for Gauff to take as Swiatek seals her place in the semi-finals in Paris for a third time.

Next for Swiatek will be Beatriz Haddad Maia tomorrow.

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