Osaka pulls out of Wuhan Open

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail SHINE, September 24, 2018
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Naomi Osaka of Japan hits a return during the women's singles final match against Serena Williams of the United States at the 2018 US Open tennis tournament in New York, the United States, Sept. 8, 2018. Osaka won 2-0 and claimed the title. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

US Open champion Naomi Osaka withdrew from the Wuhan Open in central China's Hubeil Province yesterday, hours after losing to former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in the final of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

Wuhan Open organizers said on Twitter that Osaka had withdrawn due to a viral illness.

The Japanese world No. 7 was beaten 4-6, 4-6 by Czech Pliskova in Tokyo and said afterwards that she was suffering from fatigue.

The Wuhan Open, which began yesterday and ends on Saturday, boasts a strong field despite Osaka's withdrawal, with the top five women's players, including world No. 1 Simona Halep, all taking part.

Among yesterday's winners in Wuhan were two local favorites, Zhang Shuai and Zheng Saisai.

In Tokyo, playing in her first tournament since upsetting Serena Williams to win the US Open on September 8, third-seeded Osaka hadn't dropped a set previous to yesterday's final but was frustrated from the outset by the big-serving Czech player.

Pliskova came into the final having won her last four dating to the Brisbane International in January 2017 — and kept that streak alive while putting an end to Osaka's 10-match winning streak.

Pliskova needed three dramatic sets in each of her matches to reach her second final of the season. "I was just happy it didn't go to a third set," she said. "Naomi was playing so good all tournament but I think she was a little bit tired today."

It was the second time Osaka came up short in the tournament. Two years ago, Osaka lost in the final to Caroline Wozniacki, this year's top-seeded player who was eliminated by Camila Giorgi in the second round.

Osaka has been in the spotlight both on and off the court since arriving back in Japan after her historic win in New York.

Despite being encouraged by the sold-out crowd at Tachikawa Arena, Osaka wasn't able to stage a comeback. She finished with 26 unforced errors and admitted to being exhausted after the match. "I've literally never felt more tired in my entire life," Osaka said. "To play the final of the US Open and then to come here, I think I did pretty well. So if there is anything I can take from this it is that I am proud of myself."

In Seoul, Kiki Bertens showed plenty of grit and determination to rally past Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic in the Korea Open final yesterday, keeping herself firmly in contention for a spot in the season-ending WTA Finals with a third title of the year.

Playing her fourth final of 2018, the second-seeded Dutchwoman reeled off the final six games to emerge with a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-2 victory in a roller-coaster match lasting 2 hours and 24 minutes.

"It feels great to be honest. To be holding this trophy feels special. Last year I won the doubles title but this feels better," Bertens said after collecting her trophy at the WTA International event.

Bertens started the week eighth in the WTA Finals standings but was overtaken by Pliskova, who won the higher-level Premier event in Tokyo earlier and moved up a place from ninth spot. The top eight players qualify for Singapore.

Bertens' seventh WTA career title, however, leaves the Dutch player just 69 points behind Pliskova, with both women competing in Wuhan this week.

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