If there's any woman tennis player who has impressed both fans and critics alike for her on-court as well as off-court conduct, it has to be the young Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka.
With a sensational victory over Serena Williams in the US Open 2018 final, which was mostly remembered by many fans for the controversy surrounding the on-field coaching during the match, Osaka proved to the world what she is capable of.
Even though Serena displayed good sportsmanship after the match was done, the crowd didn't accept her as the champion and merely thought that it was because of the chair umpire's decision to give the service game of Serena to Osaka which made the change in the result of the match.
But Osaka displayed true valour and temperament to carry her game forward in 2019 where she won the Australian Open by defeating strong baseline players like Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova.
In the recently-concluded Indian Wells tournament, Osaka lost to Belinda Bencic in the 4th round 3-6, 1-6. She also split with her coach recently and hired Jermaine Jenkins, who was once the hitting partner of Venus Williams.
Osaka's potential route to glory in Miami Open
Osaka is in the top half of the draw at the Miami Open and could face a stiff challenge in either Garbine Muguruza or Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round.
Her potential quarter-final opponent could be the elegant and powerful German lefty Angelique Kerber whom she lost to 4 times in a row in the last 5 encounters. Her first victory against Kerber was in the first round of 2017 US Open.
If Osaka reaches the semi-finals, she could probably have a rematch with the Australian Open finalist Kvitova. The Czech could either face Madison Keys or Kiki Bertens in the quarters.
In the bottom half of the draw, Serena Williams could play Simona Halep in the quarter-finals and she could possibly face Karolina Pliskova in the semis which will again be a rematch of the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Hence, Osaka could either face Serena or Pliskova in the final in her quest to win her first Miami Open title.
It seems to be a tough draw for the Japanese and her endurance is going to be tested to its limit this time around. If she can withstand the pressure, she can attain the status of one of the best players of the current generation.Published 21 Mar 2019, 00:06 IST