Osaka wins in Osaka as Kerber and Keys advance

Published by AP / Tennismash

After receiving a first-round bye, Naomi Osaka was a second-round winner over Bulgaria's Viktoriya Tomova (Getty Images)
Home favourite Naomi Osaka triumphs in her opening match in Osaka, the city of her birth. Also progressing to the quarterfinals are Angelique Kerber and Madison Keys.

Top-seeded Naomi Osaka reached the quarterfinals at the Japan Women’s Open by beating qualifier Viktoriya Tomova 7-5 6-3.

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

She has now won eight of her 12 main-draw matches in her fifth appearance at the tournament and will next meet either Yulia Putintseva or Russian qualifier Varvara Flink.

Osaka, who finished the match with 13 aces among 40 winners, trailed 3-0 and 4-2 in the first set, and 2-0 in the second, before sealing her 30th win of the season.

“I was very nervous playing this match, because I felt like I really wanted to win,” Osaka said.

“I always feel better here (in Japan). Of course, there’s always going to be a feeling of pressure, but for me, I don’t feel pressure from the city that I’m in, I feel pressure from the position — from me, not the location.

“After I won, I felt relieved, and also, I guess, happy with certain parts of how I was playing.”

This year the Toray Pan Pacific Open is being staged in Osaka; the tournament is typically hosted in Tokyo, however, the Ariake Coliseum venue is being upgraded ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

NEWS: Federer yet to decide on Tokyo 2020 Olympics

In another result, 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 No.5 seed Madison Keys, who defeated Zarina Diyas 5-7 6-0 6-4.

Ninth seed Elise Mertens also advanced, beating Hsieh Su-Wei 6-3 1-6 6-2.

On Thursday, second seed Kiki Bertens and No.3 seed Sloane Stephens will look to join their seeded counterparts in the last eight when they take on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Camila Giorgi respectively.

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