Medvedev, Osaka Aim for Miami Open Semifinals


image: Daniil Medvedev & Naomi Osaka action shots

By Daniel Perissé

Daniil Medvedev and Naomi Osaka will be back into action this Wednesday, March 31st, seeking a spot in the 2021 Miami Open presented by Itaú Men and Women’s Singles semifinals.

At 1 p.m., Osaka opens the Grandstand schedule facing Maria Sakkari, from Greece. This will be the fifth WTA-level match between them, and Osaka leads the head-to-head series 3-1 – last match was in 2020 in Brisbane, and the Japanese player won 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3.

The World No. 2 says that the race for the top of the rankings is not her priority now and will even be an issue focusing for this week. If Ashleigh Barty does not make the final, Osaka would be back to World No. 1 if she wins the title in the Magic City.

“I understand how important it is and what an honor it would be to be No. 1, but for me, I realize that my mind doesn’t function well if I keep thinking about all the things that could be, so right now I’m just thinking that I’m playing this tournament. Every round that I play is against a really tough opponent”, said Osaka, who plays the first Miami Open quarterfinals of her career and is on a 23-match winning streak.

Not before 3 p.m., Jannik Sinner squares off with Alexander Bublik for the second time in 2021, now for a spot in the Men’s Singles semifinals. The 19-year-old Italian already won a title in Melbourne this season, while the 23-year-old from Kazakhstan was a finalist in Antalya and Singapore. Both players seek their first Masters 1000 quarterfinal.

Opening the night session on Grandstand at 7 p.m., Bianca Andreescu plays against Sara Sorribes Tormo. The Canadian comes from a convincing win over Garbine Muguruza, her first against a Top 20 opponent since the 2019 US Open, while the unseeded Spaniard already reached 15 wins in 2021. This will be her third quarterfinal of the year.

“I have seen her play. I know she gets to a lot of balls. She has a very heavy spinny ball. She’s a crazy fighter. I want to go out there and fight even harder and hopefully I can do good things”, affirmed Andreescu, the eighth seed.

Medvedev is featured in the last match on Grandstand, not before 8:30 p.m. His challenger will be Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, who edged past John Isner in a tight battle. The Russian took out another American, Frances Tiafoe.

Bautista Agut leads the head-to-head 2-0. The last time was at the 2020 Cincinnati Masters 1000, and the Spaniard won 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.

“So I was playing great tennis there, which I was surprised, but physically I was not able to hold the moment, and against somebody like Roberto, that’s important. I think that’s the main part”, he explained.