Naomi Osaka had to come from the brink to stay alive in the Stuttgart event this weekend. The World No. 1 escaped a 5-1 deficit in the third set to deny Donna Vekic 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4).
“I mean I felt like it just happened really fast. She was 3-0 and suddenly, she was 5-1 and I felt like I took a while to get going,” Osaka said.
“I didn’t feel like I could swing freely. I think I played the best in the first set, and then it just kind of dipped a little bit, but instead of swinging freely I would say I was trying to be more consistent.”
Osaka, who is making her clay debut this week, will now face Estonian Anett Kontaveit who got a third set retirement from Victoria Azarenka leading 5-7, 7-5, 3-0. Azarenka, who served for the match in the second, had to stop because of a right shoulder issue.
Osaka leads Kontaveit 3-0.
“She hits the ball really hard, she has a great serve, a great forehand, it’s definitely going to be quite fast tennis from her,” Kontaveit said looking ahead. “And I’ll just have to try to stay tough and get as many balls back as I can, and then use my chances when I can to be aggressive and take the initiative as much as I can.”
German favorite Angelique Kerber was set out by Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-4.
“I think today was a really solid match, much better I think than yesterday,” Bertens said. “I’m really happy with my performance. A little less aces than yesterday, but I think Angie is a great returner. I was still really happy with my serve. I didn’t face a break point, I think. So, it was just a really good performance.”
Petra Kvitova awaits in the semifinal after the Czech came from a set down to defeat Anastasija Sevastova 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.
“It’s going to be a tough match,” Bertens said of Kvitova. “I think Petra is having a really good year so far, playing some great tennis. So, it’s going to be a really tough battle but I’m looking forward to it and hopefully I can play the same game as I played today.”
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