2022 Miami Open SF Notes

The final is all set for the 2022 Miami Open at Saturday 1pm local time and will be contested between Iga Swiatek and Naomi Osaka. Miami… everything is forgiven! It’s the perfect final and a much needed one in my opinion after the past two weeks in Miami and Barty’s recent retirement. Read on for my notes from Thursday’s semi-finals…

The first of the semi-finals was a fascinating prospect on paper because of the match-up. Belinda Bencic had beaten Naomi Osaka in all three of their previous tour level meetings.  Osaka snapped the streak to score a hugeeee win, 4-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and nine minutes. I think the quality was patchy in places and they didn’t play their best at the same time. Nevertheless, it was a compelling contest right up to the last ball.

The first set was a clear explanation of why Bencic is such a tricky match-up for Osaka. Bencic takes the ball so early and was able to rush and move Osaka around the court. Osaka never found her rhythm or looked comfortable in that first set. A key stat and a surprising one – Osaka won just 18% of second serve points in the first set.

This match was a classic case of Osaka’s resolve. I didn’t get any sense of panic and she stayed in the present while Bencic was crushing second serve returns. Osaka grew into the match and as she found her rhythm, became more aggressive on both her serve and groundstrokes. Osaka’s second serve was still an issue in the third set but it didn’t matter because her first serve was lethal and she was supremely clutch, finding the first serve when it counted to get out of sticky situations.

I think the turning point in the third set was Osaka serving at *1-2. She saved some break points and hit this tremendous backhand winner down-the-line having dug out a backhand on the baseline on the previous shot. Bencic had played a perfect point. Osaka rolled from there on, stumbling just a tad when serving for the match (Bencic relaxed and started swinging). Second time around serving out the match, Osaka was absolutely emphatic. And the tears rolled at the end. This was a huge win, not only beating Bencic who has been her nemesis on tour, but reaching a first final since Oz 2021. Great stuff.

In the late night semi-final, Iga Swiatek extended her winning streak to 16 (!) with a 6-2 7-5 win over Jessica Pegula. This was Swiatek’s toughest match of the tournament and it was a decent watch. I think Swiatek and Pegula’s games match up well and I enjoyed the rallies.

Swiatek’s forehand was on fire in the first set. She opened up the court beautifully by going into the corners, particularly the topspin forehand into Pegula’s forehand. If it didn’t create the error from Pegula, it invariably set up the next point for Swiatek to win it.

Despite the result, I think this was the best match i’ve seen Pegula play in 2022. Pegula’s persistence earned her the first break of serve in the second set and she was a point away from 5-2. Pegula saved match points when Swiatek served for the match the first time to extend the match but Swiatek won the last two games handily. I thought Swiatek showed bundles of character to reset each time in the second set. What a run this is…

Final Preview 📰

Soooooooooooooo excited. It’s the dream final. In their only previous match, Osaka beat Swiatek, 7-6(4) 6-4 in Toronto back in 2019. It started their friendship and some wonderfully wholesome interactions so I think this final is just going to be a lovely occasion. Both bring it in finals – Swiatek is 5-1 and Osaka 7-2 in tour level finals. Neither have lost a final at WTA 1000 level so something has to give!

Damn hard to pick a winner from this one. I can see Osaka is the outsider with the bookmakers and i’m naturally inclined to go for the underdog! That semi-final win over Bencic felt like a mission unlocked moment. Just really, really, really looking forward to this one 😊.

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7 thoughts on “2022 Miami Open SF Notes

  1. I predict Osaka to win. I would’ve picked her anyway but I think Swiatek’s very long win-streak will work against her – Tennis gods allowing a win streak incl. three WTA 1000 titles to happen is unlikely!

    I actually thought Osaka was going to do the IW-Miami double and I think it was on the cards if that ‘incident’ in IW hadn’t affected her. I reckon Osaka will have inflated H2H records with most her peers because she’ll beat them on hard courts but won’t get far enough/play in clay/grass events for her to lose to them.

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    • The tennis gods let up for this one 😂. I still think that Osaka can do well on the grass if she can get some matches on it. Really hoping she plays some of the lead-up tournaments!

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      • How wrong was I haha! I would very much advise Swiatek to lose before RG though if she wants to win it again. Slams are the most common place for long win streaks to snap. At present I’m sensing a 4R RG loss, rebounding to win Wimby and then a R1-4 loss at US Open like recent Wimbledon winners have done.

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  2. Must admit I was hoping Belinda would win their semi, but well done Naomi for making the final anyway. I think whoever’s fresher on the day will win it. Iga and Naomi are friends, so it should be a good handshake at the end 🙂

    I was very impressed with Iga’s retrieving from what I saw yesterday; she’s very hard to get a ball past and never gives up on a rally. Jessica didn’t play badly but Iga was like a wall.

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  3. To be honest, I was selfishly glad that Naomi was out early from the AO slam. I want to see Osaka go to the Spring Summer season still hungry for a slam win, still feeling like she is yet to peak. There is a Wimbledon slam in there somewhere. I am quite glad that most of the women who played great during the pandemic are still showing their drive. The Wta tour in my view is changing .

    An aside, early 2020, I thought, it was Kvitova who was going to peak during the pandemic like Barty did and call a time out for a while with a slam or two in her bag. Happy for Barty though, this what Ive always like about her. I think and hope her decision is actually going to open up and inspire the other players on tour mentally to reach for their dreams. I like both Naomi and Iga, so any winner is great, but slightly swayed to Osaka.

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    • Saw some comments from Osaka in press after this match and really encouraged by her mindset heading into clay and grass. I agree with your point about Barty, I think she’s had a big impact on the rest of the players.

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