History for Barty after Osaka stunner
Ash Barty is guaranteed to hold on to the world number one ranking after Naomi Osaka was stunningly beaten at the Miami Open.
Osaka, the reigning US and Australian Open champion, was upset by Greece's Maria Sakkari 6-0 6-4 in the quarter-finals, ending the Japanese star's 23-match win streak.
It means Barty will retain No. 1 in the rankings for at least another five weeks, taking her reign at the top of the women's game to 74 weeks.
While much of that time was spent sitting at home while COVID-19 suspended the tour, Barty has now moved to ninth all-time for most weeks at number one.
Only Steffi Graf (377 weeks), Martina Navratilova (332), Serena Williams (319), Chris Evert (260), Martina Hingis (209), Monica Seles (178), Justin Henin (117) and Lindsay Davenport (98) are ahead of her after she passed Caroline Wozniacki (98).
"Barty has more weeks at #1 than Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Aranxta Sanchez Vicario, Garbine Muguruza combined," tweeted tennis journo Tumaini Carayol.
"However, there is objectively a very obvious, once in a lifetime reason why she has been able to maintain her spot for so long. Probably the only thing in tennis I would actually asterisk.
"One thing worth pointing out though is that one of the reasons why Barty was able to maintain her spot is because of how many points she compiled. Her current points total (9186) is the most since Serena five years ago and it was 8717 during her hiatus. Too high for anyone to catch."
Osaka loses 13 points in a row on serve
Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion who was chasing her first Miami crown, only won eight points in the first set, never managing a winner.
Osaka broke in the second game of the second set and seized a 3-0 lead before Sakkari roared back.
Sakkari broke Osaka for the second time in the match after trailing 40-0 to seize a 5-4 advantage, then served out to win the match after 69 minutes when Osaka sent a forehand beyond the baseline.
"She has the most wins so far this year so she's in great form - it meant a lot to me," Sakkari said of the victory, which prompted a scream of delight after the final point.
"I was focused on my returns. I had to mix it up well. Overall, it was a pretty clever match."
Sakkari, the 23rd seed, advanced to a semi-final against the winner of a later match between Canadian eighth seed Bianca Andreescu and Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Osaka won only 3-of-13 second-serve points in the opening set and had only a 35 per cent accuracy rate on first serves as Sakkari dominated early, taking 13 straight points on Osaka's serve in one stretch.
"I played a great first set," Sakkari said. "I didn't make many unforced errors. I just came out with a good game plan."
Osaka had not dropped a set at love since her last defeat, which came in February 2020 in a Fed Cup match.
- with Wieres
Originally published as History for Barty after Osaka stunner