Naomi Osaka yesterday showcased the ruthlessness that won her the US Open as the young Japanese sped into the quarter-finals at the China Open.
The 20-year-old, who stunned Serena Williams to win her maiden Grand Slam last month, was devastating against 10th seed Julia Goerges of Germany, winning 6-1, 6-2 in 65 minutes.
“On the court I have to think: ‘Focus,’ because it’s not something that’s natural to me,” Osaka said.
“It’s something that I’ve been working on throughout this whole year and I think it finally clicked, or at least it’s more consistent,” she said.
“Not so many unforced errors [compared with a year ago]. I’m not sure how many I hit today, but sometimes last year I think I was hitting a lot,” she said.
The Japanese faces home hope Zhang Shuai in the last eight in the Chinese capital after Zhang pulled off a shock in defeating three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber.
The Chinese world No. 45 emerged from a see-saw battle with the third seed.
Zhang won the first set 6-1, before reigning Wimbledon champion Kerber fought back to win the second 6-2.
Zhang stepped up a gear in the decider, taking the set a comprehensive 6-0 to thrill the home crowd.
Kerber said that she had been troubled by a problem with her right knee, but refused to blame that for the defeat.
“I was not feeling the best at the beginning of the match, but then I was playing better and better,” she said. “At the end she played a good third set, she took her chances and played a really solid match.”
At the Japan Open yesterday, Kevin Anderson ousted Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, while Richard Gasquet beat Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (7/4) 7-6.
The winners face each other in today’s quarter-finals along with Jan-Lennard Struff against Denis Shapovalov; Daniil Medvedev against Milos Raonic; and Stephanos Tsitsipas against Kei Nishikori.
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