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Naomi Osaka - beats Serena Williams

The five best WTA players without a Miami Open title

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As a WTA 1000 event, the Miami Open is one of the biggest tournaments in women’s tennis outside of the four Grand Slams. Since being founded in 1985, it is a title which even winners of multiple majors – past and present – have missed out on.

With the main draw of the 2021 edition set to begin, Tennishead looks at five great WTA players who have played the Miami Open but been unable to lift the trophy:

 

Justine Henin

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin appeared at the Miami Open eight times during her illustrious career. The Belgian first played the event in 2001 where – as the 14th seed – she lost to Tathiana Garbin in a straight-set third round match. Seeded sixth a year later, she lost to Anna Smashnova in three sets in the second round.

Henin was then seeded fourth in 2003 – when she was beaten by 12th seed Chanda Rubin in a straight-set quarter-final. The Belgian next appeared in 2005 as the 19th seed and was defeated by second seed Maria Sharapova in three sets.

The following year, third seed Henin lost to Meghann Shaughnessy in the second round after a first round bye. The four-time French Open winner then achieved her best Miami Open result in 2007 where – seeded second – she reached the final after beating Anna Chakvetadze in a straight-set semi-final. Henin held two championship points from serving at 5-4, 40-15 in the second set of the final, but was narrowly beaten 0-6, 7-5, 6-3 by 13th seed Serena Williams.

The Belgian was stopped again by eventual champion Serena Williams in the next edition. The eighth seeded American beat the top seed Henin 6-2, 6-0 in the quarter-finals. Henin featured for the final time in Miami in 2010 as a wildcard – reaching the semi-finals after edging second seed Caroline Wozniacki in three sets. Her compatriot – the 14th seed Kim Clijsters – beat Henin 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (8-6) in the last four.

Maria Sharapova 

Five-time major winner Maria Sharapova came close more times than anyone else without winning a Miami Open title – finishing runner-up five times in her 10 appearances. The Russian first played the event as a 15-year-old wildcard in 2003 – losing in the opening round to Els Callens. Seeded 17th, she then lost in the fourth round to top seed Serena Williams the following year.

Sharapova made consecutive Miami finals in 2005 and 2006 – when she was seeded second and fourth respectively. She lost to the unseeded Clijsters in the first of those finals 3-6, 5-7, after having beat eighth seed Venus Williams in a straight-set semi-final. The Russian then lost to compatriot and 12th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 4-6, 3-6 in the 2006 title match.

She was the top seed in 2007, but lost to 13th seed and eventual winner Serena Williams 1-6, 1-6 in the fourth round. Sharapova next appeared at the event four years later, when she started another streak of consecutive reaching finals. Seeded 16th in 2011, she was beaten 6-1, 6-4 by eighth seed Victoria Azarenka in the title match.

The Russian was seeded second in 2012 – when she fell 5-7, 4-6 to fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the final. Top seed Serena Williams then beat the third-seeded Sharapova 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the 2013 championship match. Sharapova, the fourth seed, was then defeated again by her toughest rival in the 2014 semi-finals – with the top seed Williams prevailing 6-4, 6-3.

Sharapova made her final Miami appearance in 2015 as the second seed – where she was beaten by wildcard Daria Gavrilova in a straight-set second round match.

Naomi Osaka

Current US Open and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka has featured at the Miami Open four times. The four-time Grand Slam winner first appeared as a wildcard at the 2016 event – where she reached the third round. The Japanese star lost to Timea Babos in straight sets after beating 14th seed Sara Errani in the second round.

Osaka was unseeded the following year and fell to third seed Simona Halep in a three-set second round contest. She was unseeded again in 2018 at the final Miami Open edition held at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne. Osaka stunned her idol Serena Williams – a wildcard – 6-3, 6-2 in the first round. She then lost to fourth seed Elina Svitolina in straight sets in the second round.

A year later, Osaka was the top seed after her victories at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open. She was beaten by 27th seed Su-Wei Hsieh in three sets in the third round. The current Japanese No. 1 and world No. 2 is seeded second at this year’s Miami Open and, at 23, should still have many opportunities to claim the title.

Hana Mandlikova 

Four-time major singles champion Hana Mandlikova played in the inaugural edition of the Lipton Championships in 1985. The seventh-seeded Czechoslovakian reached the quarter-finals – where she was beaten in straight sets by 10th seed Carling Bassett of Canada.

Mandlikova achieved her best result in Key Biscayne in 1987, when she made the semi-finals. Then representing Australia, the fourth seed lost to second seed Chris Evert in straight sets.

She was seeded fourth again a year later – when she lost in the third round to German qualifier Sabine Auer in three sets. Mandlikova did not appear at the tournament again before retiring in 1990.

Lindsay Davenport

Lindsay Davenport – winner of three major singles titles – featured at the Miami Open 12 times. She reached the second round of the then Lipton Championships in her first two appearances in 1992 and 1993. Seventh seed Davenport then made the semi-finals in 1994 – losing to top seed and eventual winner Steffi Graf 0-6, 6-7.

The American was seeded fourth the following year and lost in the fourth round to Rachel McQuillan in straight sets. Davenport then made the last four of the tournament again as the eighth seed in 1996. She was beaten again by top seed and eventual winner Graf – this time 6-4, 6-4.

In 1997, the fifth-seeded Davenport lost in straight sets to Mary Joe Fernandez in the fourth round. The American then made successive quarter-finals in the next two years – both of which where she was the second seed. She lost to 23rd seed Anna Kournikova in three sets in 1998, and was forced to give her 1999 last eight opponent Graf a walkover due to injury.

Davenport then earned her best Miami Open result in 2000 where – seeded second again – she made the final. After defeating 12th seed Sandrine Testud in a tight semi-final, Davenport fell 3-6, 2-6 to top seed Martina Hingis in the title match.

The American made the quarter-finals in 2001 – where she was seeded second for the fourth consecutive year – and was forced to retire in the second set against seventh seed Elena Dementieva. Davenport reached the fourth round in her final two appearances at the event. She was forced to retire when down a set against qualifier Marion Bartoli as the seventh seed in 2003. Seeded 32nd in 2008, Davenport was beaten in straight sets by 13th seed Dinara Safina.


Naomi Osaka - beats Serena Williams
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