Naomi Osaka was defeated at the Miami Open 2021 by Maria Sakkari, after a lackluster performance, especially physically, but her start to the season was extraordinary. The Japanese won her 4th Slam at the Australian Open 2021, where, among her rivals, she also defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals.
In a recent interview, Steve Flink returned to talk about Osaka's defeat against Sakkari tal Miami Open 2021. The reporter said: "I first said she was a disaster she just looked like she wasn’t didn’t really really feel like playing.
She she tried, but she did n’t have anything. She was just missing a lot of easy shots. She served badly and then Sakkari really got very aggressive on the second serve return she wouldn’t let Osaka get away with any medium pace kick serve and she demolished the return so Sakkari played well.
In the second set Osaka was up 4-1. She should have won in the second set and then never won another game, so she had a pretty bad day at the office. Sakkari played well, but even Sakkari said afterwards she didn’t think it was necessarily the best she’s ever played, so that was an admission that she got some help from Naomi."
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On the last days, on Twitter, she condemned the recent hate crimes against Asian Americans. She wrote: "If people loved Asian people as much as they love bubble tea, anime, mochi, sushi, matcha etc.
Imagine profiting / enjoying things that come from a culture and then attacking / diminishing the ethnic group that created it." On Twitter we can read comments by users who said: "Think about how many people love hip hop culture, and gentrifying communities, Eating ethnic food and so on," or also: "Hate loves to take."
Following the first Australian success, on 28 January 2019 it also reached the first place in the world ranking for the first time. Naomi was the first ever Japanese athlete to win a Grand Slam title, the third in the Open Era to qualify for the WTA Finals in 2018 and the first Asian ever to reach the top of the WTA rankings.
Naomi and Ashleigh Barty are fighting for the WTA world no.1. Barty has been world no.1 since September 2019, for 69 weeks, 62 of which are consecutive. Over the course of her career she has won seven WTA titles out of eleven finals played, four of which are Grand Slam tournaments: she boasts the victory of two US Open in 2018 and 2020 and two Australian Open in 2019 and 2021.