Japanese No.1 Naomi Osaka has raced into the quarter-finals of the Pan Pacific Open after defeating Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-1, in less than an hour.
Osaka, who recently became the first player from her country to win a grand slam title at the US Open, delighted a packed crowd at the Arena Tachikawa Tachihi. The popularity of the 20-year-old has soared in recent days. Tickets for the evening session was sold out. Even more significant was the decision by the Japanese broadcaster to change the air time of the national news program to accommodate Osaka’s match.
Playing for the first time since winning the New York title, the third seed lived to expectations by dominating from the onset. Hitting a series of furious forehands that painted the lines and delighted her home crowd. The 59-minute victory saw her hit 25 winners to nine unforced errors as she dropped just three points behind her first serve.
“It was really difficult. She is such a great player.” Osaka said during her on-court interview. “I’m just really grateful that I was able to play in front of you guys (the Tokyo crowd).”
Osaka’s clinical start saw her claim four games in a row before Cibulkova managed to get onto the scoreboard. Despite the threat posed by the former Australian Open finalist, it was not enough to deny the powerful hitting Osaka. Who sealed the 6-2 lead with three consecutive aces.
Continuing her momentum, Osaka struck once again three games into the second set. A tentative service game from a frustrated Cibulkova concluded with her hitting a backhand out of the court. Granting the world No.7 another break for a 2-1 lead. From then on, the match was a foregone conclusion as Osaka rallied towards the finish line. Clinching victory with the help of another Cibulkova backhand drifting long.
In the last eight, Osaka will take on either Anett Kontaveit or Barbora Strycova.
Garbine Muguruza’s hopes of a first title in Japan has been dashed following a 6-1, 6-2, loss to Alison Riske. The two-time grand slam champion was unable to tame the clinical display from her opponent, which featured three aces, 19 winners and only nine unforced errors. Riske is currently 75th in the world rankings, but has been as high as 36th in the world last year.
“It’s definitely exciting. I was just really happy with how I played,” the American said during her on-court interview. “I felt like I was really solid today and I’m just excited to be here another day. I think I was able to keep my composure throughout the match. I felt like I started the match with a really high level and I was able to maintain it for the whole match. I’m really happy overall with…the way I played.”
Muguruza, who has been hampered by injury issues in recent weeks, hasn’t won back-to-back matches on the tour since Wimbledon. At the US Open she crashed out in the second round to Karolína Muchová.
next Monday Garbine Muguruza will be at least 780 points behind the n.8 in the WTA Race, 578 points behind the top-10.
3 tournaments left (Wuhan, Beijing and Hong Kong) before the end of the season.
— Diego Barbiani (@Diego_Barbiani) September 19, 2018
In the quarter-finals, Riske will take on fourth seed Karolina Pliskova. The Czech prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, over Daria Gavrilova in a marathon encounter. Pliskova is bidding to become the first Czech finalist in Tokyo since Petra Kvitova in 2013.
“I think it was very tough.” Pliskova said afterwards, according to wtatennis.com. “The first set was in my hands, and I made some stupid mistakes, so it didn’t have to go to a third one, but I’m glad I fought back after I was losing in the final set. I could have played better, but for a first round, it was enough to stick around in Tokyo.”
In other matches, Caroline Garcia defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.
In-Form Liudmila Samsonova Storms To Tokyo Title
Tokyo is the second tournament this year the Russian has won without dropping a set.
Liudmila Samsonova has continued her rapid surge on the Tour by defeating China’s Qinwen Zheng 7-5, 7-5, to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
The world No.30 dropped serve only once and hit four aces as she edged her way past rising star Zheng who is the first Chinese teenager to reach the final of a Tour-level singles event. Overall, Samsonova won 68% of her service points en route to becoming the first Russian player to win the tournament since Nadia Petrova in 2012.
“It’s amazing, I don’t have too many words right now. I need a little bit of time,” said Samsonova, who beat Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Garbine Muguruza earlier in the draw.
“It was a really tough match. She is playing amazing. It was a nervous match, we were fighting every point. It was tough.”
Samsonova is becoming a formidable force in the women’s game and has now won 18 out of her past 19 matches. Last month she also won titles in Washington and Cleveland before reaching the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career at the age of 23. She is now 4-0 in tournament finals and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo this week.
“I played a high level in all my five matches. I am incredibly happy about how I managed it,” she said.
There is also a reason for Zheng to celebrate with her run in Tokyo securing her place in the world’s top 30 for the first time on Monday when the rankings are updated. Making her the first Chinese player to do so as a teenager. She is also only the second teenager to reach the final of a WTA 500 event or higher this season after Coco Gauff at the French Open.
Samsonova will also rise to a ranking high on Monday to just outside the world’s top 20.
Naomi Osaka Seeks Resurgence At Home Event After Rollercoaster Year
Former world No.1 Naomi Osaka admits that there have been more downs than ups for her this year but she is maintaining a positive outlook.
The four-time Grand Slam champion has played 22 matches so far this season with her win-loss record currently standing at 13-9. However, at her six most recent tournaments she has failed to win back-to-back matches and is currently on a four-match losing streak. Osaka also missed this year’s Wimbledon Championships due to an achilles injury.
Currently ranked 44th in the world, Osaka is hoping to break her slump at this week’s Toray Pan Pacific Open which will be held in Tokyo. It will be the first time she has played since losing to Danielle Collins in the first round of the US Open.
“I think, of course, the year has (not been) the best year for me,” Osaka said during her pre-tournament press conference. “But I think overall I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’m just happy to be healthy. Because in Europe, I did injure myself, and that was like my first injury that took me that long to get healed.
“I think life is kind of ups and downs and this one was kind of more down than up, but overall I’m pretty happy with where I am now.”
Osaka is the defending champion in Tokyo, even though she won the tournament back in 2019. The event has been cancelled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot has happened to the Japanese player since she won the title, both on and off the court. Osaka has spoken publicly about her mental health issues and took time away from the sport because of them.
“It feels really weird to hear that I’m the defending champion because it was the last time I played in 2019,” she said. “I would love to win it again, but I think just taking it one match at a time … and also just playing in front of a crowd in Tokyo again, because the Olympics was crowdless, so it will just be nice to see people.”
This year Osaka does not have a seeding in the Tokyo draw which is in stark contrast to three years ago when she was the highest-ranked player in the tournament. She will begin her campaign against Australia’s Daria Saville and could then face fifth seed, Beatriz Haddad Maia, in the last 16.
“I think every year for me since the first Slam, there’s been a lot of changes,” Osaka said. “But I think this year it has definitely been a real growing year for me. I think tennis-wise, I don’t really think I can go in a wrong direction. I feel like me as a player, my base is pretty solid. I can only really learn more about myself. I know that I am an aggressive player and I can only hope to keep doing that.”
Away from the Tour, the 24-year-old remains one of the highest-earning players in the sport. According to a report published by Forbes in August, she earned in the region of £56.2M over 12 months with $55M of that coming from off-court ventures. She has also set up her own sports agency with long-time agent Stuart Duguid, signing Nick Kyrgios as one of her clients.
“For everything off court, I think it’s really cool how tennis has let me get so many opportunities in things that I’m interested in, and it’s something I’m really happy and grateful for and I can only hope it keeps evolving.” She commented.
This week Osaka is seeking to win her first title of any sort since the 2021 Australian Open.
Simona Halep Ends 2022 Season With Nose Surgery And Mental Exhaustion
Simona Halep will return to the court in 2023.
Simona Halep has ended her season after having nose surgery and suffering from mental exhaustion in recent months.
The two-time Grand Slam champion has had a mixed season this year with the Romanian almost quitting the sport in February.
However the former world number one reunited with Patrick Mouratoglou and produced a world-class grass court season and US Hard court swing to get back into the world’s top ten.
Despite this, Halep has also had her troubles having had a panic attack at Roland Garros and struggled with anxiety.
This was all produced by the Romanian in her statement when she announced she would not play the rest of the season due to a nose surgery which has been linked to her breathing.
Now Halep will look to recover mentally and physically in time for January’s Australian Open as she will look to become a Grand Slam champion for the third time in her career.
Simona Halep’s 2022 Season:
Melbourne Summer Set 1: Champion
Australian Open: R4 l. Cornet
Dubai: Semi-Finals l. Ostapenko
Qatar: R1 l. Garcia
Indian Wells: Semi-Finals l. Swiatek
Madrid: Quarter-Finals l. Jabeur
Rome: R2 l. Collins
Roland Garros: R2 l. Q. Zheng
Birmingham: Semi-Finals l. Haddad Maia
Bad Homburg: Semi-Finals l. Andreescu
Wimbledon: Semi-Finals l. Rybakina
Washington: R2 l. Kalinskaya
Cincinnati: R2 – Withdrew
US Open: R1 l. Snigur
Novak Djokovic reaches the semifinal in Tel Aviv
Jannik Sinner reaches his third consecutive semifinal at the Sofia Open
Kei Nishikori Confirms Safety Amid Hurricane Ian, Sets Out End of Year Plans
Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin
Yoshihito Nishioka upsets Casper Ruud to reach the semifinal in Seoul
Roger Federer To Make Last-Minute Decision Over Laver Cup Participation, Says Coach
Juan Martin Del Potro Reveals Physical And Mental Trauma From Tennis Retirement
Should Roger Federer Become A Super Coach? Djokovic And Murray Give Their View
Andy Murray Calls For Earlier Start To Davis Cup Ties After Great Britain Loses Late-Night Thriller
US Open 2022: John McEnroe Lashes Out At Journalist In Midst Of Nadal Row
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) ITF President David Haggerty ’Satisfied’ With Davis Cup Format Despite Issues
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) ITF President David Haggerty Reacts To Federer’s Retirement
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