Naomi Osaka admitted keeping her focus was the key to her surprise victory over Serena Williams at the Miami Open.
Williams’ status as a wildcard meant she faced Indian Wells winner Osaka first up in Florida but she was still the favourite to win having never been knocked out before the fourth round of this tournament.
However, the unseeded Japanese player continued her recent form with an eighth straight victory, exploiting her opponent’s well-documented lack of match sharpness to record a 6-3 6-2 victory.
The 20-year-old will now meet fourth seed Elina Svitolina and is 13.00 to back up her recent success in California with another Masters tournament triumph, while Svitolina is slightly shorter at 10.00.
Defeating her idol Serena will only boost the youngster’s confidence levels and she admits she was extremely nervous going into Wednesday’s match due to her opponent’s status as one of the best in the sport.
It could prove an important lesson for the world number 22 in the early days of her career and she believes her ability to concentrate on her game rather than whats happening on the other side of the net was crucial to her win over the 23-time Grand Slam winner.
“I was extremely nervous coming on the court. I don’t know if anyone knows this but Serena is my favourite player,” Osaka said on-court after the match.
“Just playing against her is kind of like a dream for me, so I’m very grateful, and it’s even better that I was able to win.
“I just tried to look on my side of the court and not think too much about what she was doing.”