Date: 31 March 2021
Tournament: Miami Open 2021
Venue: Miami, Florida
Category: WTA 1000
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $3,260,190
Match timing: 1 pm local time, 10.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Eurosport
Naomi Osaka vs Maria Sakkari preview
Naomi Osaka is by far the most in-from player on the women's tour at the moment. The 23-year-old is currently on a nine-match winning streak, and a 23-match unbeaten one; the only two matches she hasn't won since the resumption of the tour have been on account of withdrawals.
Over the past six months, Osaka has won titles at the US Open and the Australian Open, and also reached the final of the Western & Southern Open (from which she pulled out due to injury). Needless to say, the Japanese is a big favorite to win her maiden title in Miami.
In the second round against Ajla Tomljanovic, Osaka showed her famed ability to dig deep and get the win despite not playing her best. She then registered an effortless straight-sets victory over Elise Mertens to march into the quarterfinals.
Much like her opponent, Maria Sakkari has also played some of the best tennis of her life since the tour restarted. However, she doesn't have a lot of results to show for her efforts.
The Greek reached the semifinals in Ostrava at the end of last year, and repeated the feat at Abu Dhabi and the Grampians Trophy at the start of 2021. Sakkari has been very strong in Miami too, getting past her early rounds with relative ease and then coming through a thrilling Round of 16 battle against Jessica Pegula.
Sakkari ended up winning the deciding set tie-break on Monday, after saving as many as six match points with some incredibly clutch play.
Naomi Osaka vs Maria Sakkari head-to-head
The quarterfinal encounter in Miami is the fifth meeting between the two players on tour. Naomi Osaka currently leads Maria Sakkari 3-1 in head-to-head matchups.
The Japanese defeated Sakkari at Brisbane 2020, Birmingham 2019, and Indian Wells 2018 - all in three sets. The Greek, meanwhile, defeated Osaka in straight sets at Cincinnati 2018.
Naomi Osaka vs Maria Sakkari prediction
Naomi Osaka is one of the hardest hitters on tour, and she uses her power to dictate the play from the baseline. But as the previously tight matches against Maria Sakkari suggest, she struggles against opponents that are able to employ a similar technique.
Sakkari's impressive physical conditioning and solid groundstrokes allow her to outlast most opponents in long baseline exchanges. The Greek also uses her strong first serve as an efficient weapon.
On Wednesday, Sakkari will look to mix up her game to test Osaka's movement and skill at the net, as well as disrupt her rhythm from the baseline.
Given Osaka's current form on hardcourts and the effectiveness of her quick-strike style of play, it is hard to see her losing to anyone on tour. However, the encounter could be more complicated for the 23-year-old than the gap in rankings indicates.
Prediction: Naomi Osaka to win in three sets.