Naomi Osaka had grown so accustomed to dominating that she was not immediately sure what lessons to take after her 23-match winning streak came to an abrupt end in quarter-final action at the Miami Open on Wednesday.
Osaka, the reigning US Open and Australian Open champion whose last loss came in February 2020, was beaten 6-0, 6-4 by Greek 23rd seed Maria Sakkari.
“I feel like even if you’re not playing great you should still find ways to win. I’m trying to find ways to do that,” Osaka said.
“Hopefully, I don’t lose like this a couple more times, but I think the more times that stuff like this happens, the more I’ll learn from it.”
The Japanese second seed’s early exit also ended any hopes she had of reclaiming the world number one ranking from Australian Ash Barty, who has moved into the Miami semi-finals.
For the first time since the WTA Tour resumed play last July, the top ranking could have changed hands in Miami but for that to happen Osaka needed to at least reach the final.
Osaka, who has looked calm and collected in several high-pressure situations on court while winning four Grand Slam titles, admitted that all the talk about rankings may have gotten the better of her.
“It’s hard to say, but I do think like the last time I was in this seat I wasn’t really thinking at all about rankings, but someone asked me that question, so then I did start to ponder about it a lot,” said Osaka.
“So maybe unwillingly that put pressure on myself. But I feel like even if it did, I should be able to rise above that.”