Polish second seed Iga Swiatek will take over the world No 1 ranking next week and wins tournament without dropping a set in Miami; she has now won 17 consecutive matches dating back to her championship run at the Qatar Open in February; Osaka: "I'd normally be crying, but now I'm chill"
Sunday 3 April 2022 07:14, UK
Poland's Iga Swiatek kept her remarkable run intact with a 6-4 6-0 win over Japan's Naomi Osaka in the Miami Open final on Saturday.
The Polish second seed, who will take over the world No 1 ranking next week, did not drop a set in Miami and has now won 17 consecutive matches dating back to her championship run at the Qatar Open in February.
With the victory, the 20-year-old Swiatek becomes only the fourth woman to win the Indian Wells and Miami tournaments back-to-back, a feat known as the "Sunshine Double" given the tournaments' respective locations in California and Florida.
The two players wasted no time getting into the heat of the battle as the match began with a wild seven-deuce opening game during which four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka saved two break points and fired down four aces to hold serve.
The match remained on serve until Swiatek broke Osaka when she ripped a brilliant crosscourt backhand winner to go ahead 3-2 and then went on to close out the first set without facing a break point despite serving under 40 per cent.
The former French Open champion raised her level in the second, breaking Osaka three times to race to a 5-0 lead and never looking back as she sealed the 79-minute match on her first championship point when Osaka sent a forehand wide.
Swiatek is the first women to complete the "Sunshine Double" since Victoria Azarenka in 2016. Kim Clijsters (2005) and Steffi Graf (1994, 1996) are the other women to accomplish the feat.
Following the defeat, Osaka said she may leave Florida with something more valuable than the winner's trophy.
"I have learned that like, I don't know, I'm not as disappointed as I normally would be, like I think normally I would be crying in the locker room or something, but now I'm kind of like chill," she said.
"I feel like I know what I want to do better, and I just want to go back and start training again to like hopefully win a tournament next time."
Those were encouraging words to hear from Osaka, who took a break from the sport last year to prioritise her mental health and arrived in Florida after an early exit at Indian Wells where she was reduced to tears after being heckled during a match.
Osaka, whose last tournament win came at the 2021 Australian Open, said her new attitude does not mean she is not hungry for more titles and that she is still pushing herself to become a better player.
"It's all about keeping a certain perspective. Playing Iga today, just knowing the kind of roll that she's on, I guess I have to think about it more, like what specifically did I learn today," said Osaka.
"It's kind of cool to be blown away by a person, like an opponent, but at the same time, I feel like I'm strong enough that that shouldn't happen.
"So I'm a bit like irritated a little bit, but I feel like, you know, this is like the learning process, and something good will happen eventually if I keep sticking with what I'm doing."
World No 2 Daniil Medvedev is a doubt for the French Open after revealing he will have surgery on a hernia.
The 26-year-old Russian, who last week missed the chance to return to top of the world rankings following a quarter-final defeat by Hubert Hurkacz at the Miami Open, could be sidelined for two months. The French Open starts on May 22.
"The last months I have been playing with a small hernia," Medvedev said on social media on Saturday.
"Together with my team I have decided to have a small procedure done to fix the problem.
"I will likely be out for the next one to two months and will work hard to be back on court soon. Thanks for all the support."
Medvedev, who won last September's US Open and reached the final of this year's Australian Open, was world number one for a three-week spell in February before Novak Djokovic regained top spot.