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Osaka makes Miami quarterfinals

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA (AP) – Making the quarterfinals at a tournament used to be no big deal for Naomi Osaka. It was only a shock if it didn’t happen.

Things are a bit different now.

The former world number one has made it through to the quarterfinals at the Miami Open – just the second time she has managed to advance that deep in any tournament over the last year. Osaka beat Alison Riske of the United States (US) 6-3, 6-4 on Monday, moving into a round-of-eight matchup with Danielle Collins.

Osaka’s only other quarterfinal appearance in the last year was at an Australian Open warmup tournament in Melbourne in January. Before that, her most recent quarterfinals trip was at Miami a year ago.

“It’s really funny for me, because last year here I made it to the quarters, too,” Osaka said.

“It was after I won Australia and I wasn’t that grateful. I kind of expected to win.” Wins these days just mean more, after ongoing struggles and time away from the game to deal with her mental health. Her ranking has dipped to number 77 – it could get somewhere around number 30 if she wins the Miami title – and she hasn’t won a tournament since that Australian Open last year.

Naomi Osaka of Japan serves to Alison Riske during the Miami Open tennis tournament. PHOTO: AP

But her stay in Miami so far has been nothing but happiness, with three easy wins – all in straight sets – and the added benefit of a walkover victory in there as well.

“This is really one of the funnest times of my life,” Osaka said. “I’m really grateful.”

Collins, the number nine seed from the US, needed just over an hour on Monday to win her fourth-round match against number eight Ons Jabeur, 6-2, 6-4. The win likely ensured that Collins is locked into the top 10 when the world rankings reset early next week.

Daria Saville also got into the quarterfinals, surviving a three-hour match to beat Lucia Bronzetti 5-7, 6-4, 7-5. Saville has climbed a staggering 500 spots in the rankings in about a month and a half; she was 627th in the world in mid-February and could make the top 100 if she wins her next match against number 22 Belinda Bencic – a 6-2, 6-3 winner on Monday over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Number two Iga Swiatek, who is already assured of moving to number one next week, also rolled into the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-1 win over number 14 Coco Gauff.

“I was in a good mood today and (in a) good zone,” Swiatek said. “I was really focussed. Sometimes I have these kind of moments where I don’t even know what the score is. That’s nice, because you’re just focussing on tennis and tactics and technique.”

Swiatek will next play number 28 Petra Kvitova, a 7-6 (5), 6-4 winner over number 21 Veronika Kudermetova.

Number 16 Jessica Pegula also advanced; unseeded Anhelina Kalinina retired after Pegula won the first set 6-0. Pegula will play number five Paula Badosa, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Linda Fruhvirtova in the quarterfinals.

In the men’s third round, Daniil Medvedev is now two wins away from reclaiming the number one ranking. The top seed in Miami beat Spain’s Pedro Martinez 6-3, 6-4.

A trip to the semifinals is all it would take for Medvedev to leapfrog Novak Djokovic – who can’t travel to the US because he isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19 – and return to number one.

Next up for Medvedev: American Jenson Brooksby, who rallied from 0-4 down in the third set to upset number 15 Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

Number 11 Taylor Fritz – seeking the so-called “Sunshine Double”, meaning tournament wins at both Indian Wells and Miami – topped good friend Tommy Paul 7-6 (2), 6-4 in an all American third-round matchup.

Number three seed Stefanos Tsitsipas beat number 25 Alex de Minaur, 6-4, 6-3.

Defending champion Hubert Hurkacz also advanced, the number eight seed fighting past number 29 Aslan Karatsev 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. Number 14 Carlos Alcaraz got by number 21 Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4.

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