Tennis

Naomi Osaka reaches quarterfinals at Pan Pacific Open

AP, AFP-JIJI, Kyodo

Top-seeded Naomi Osaka reached the quarterfinals at the Pan Pacific Open by beating qualifier Viktoriya Tomova 7-5, 6-3 on Wednesday.

Osaka, who was broken twice early in the match, is looking to win her first title in her hometown after finishing runner-up in 2016 and 2018.

“I was a little nervous at the beginning,” admitted Osaka.

Osaka, who lost in the last 16 at the U.S. Open, started slowly, losing the first three games of the match, but later found her rhythm with solid serves and crisp volleying to secure the first set.

Tomova’s quick court coverage caused Osaka difficulty throughout the match but in the end the two-time Grand Slam champion had too much power for her opponent, serving a succession of rapid aces.

The 21-year-old, who was born in the city, said the cheers of her hometown fans helped her put in a solid performance.

She will next meet either Yulia Putintseva or Russian qualifier Varvara Flink.

Fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber won her first match since Wimbledon, beating American qualifier Nicole Gibbs 6-2, 6-4.

“The goal now is to finish the year as well as I can, to put all the energy which I have into this run in Asia and to play well in the next few weeks,” Kerber said.

Kerber will next face Madison Keys, who defeated Zarina Diyas 5-7, 6-0, 6-4.

“I know Madison really well, so I know what to expect,” Kerber said. “It will be interesting. We both know we have to play our best against each other.”

Elise Merterns also advanced, beating Hsieh Su-wei 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.

In doubles, Nao Hibino and Misaki Doi booked a spot in the quarterfinals in their bid for a second-straight WTA title with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Francesca Di Lorenzo of the United States and Poland’s Katarzyna Kawa.

Hibino beat Doi in an all-Japanese singles final at the Japan Women’s Open in Hiroshima on Sunday before the pair prevailed in the doubles final.

The Japanese pair of Momoko Kobori and Ayano Shimizu lost 6-2, 7-5 against Germany’s Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands.

At the Korea Open in Seoul, second-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova recovered well to beat Kristyna Pliskova 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and reach the quarterfinals.

Alexandrova will next play Kristie Ahn. The American advanced by beating Ana Bogdan of Romania 0-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).

Magda Linette also reached the quarterfinals, defeating Anastasia Potapova 7-5, 7-6 (7-4). The fourth-seeded Linette will next meet Kirsten Flipkens, who upset seventh-seed Margarita Gasparyan 6-3, 7-5.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5