Pliskova upsets Osaka to win Tokyo final

Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova

Third seed Osaka's defeat came a fortnight after she won the US Open final, which was overshadowed by beaten opponent Serena Williams' outburst at an umpire.

Pliskova had battled through three three-setters to reach the final this week, saving two match points against Alison Riske in the quarterfinals, in contrast to Osaka's smoother passage through her half of the draw.

Osaka, playing her fourth and aiming to rise to a career-high ranking of No.6 by winning the title, was on a 10-match winning streak and had not lost a set to reach the final.

A runner up at this event two years ago, Osaka has not dropped a set so far this week and has had her service broken just once.

"I'm just happy it didn't go to three sets", said the Czech, who had been taken the distance in her previous three matches.

"Today was the first match that I felt nervous".

"So if there is anything I can take from this it is that I am proud of myself". "I'm trying to stay at a consistent level so hopefully I can keep doing that".

Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts as she won a point against Italy's Camila Giorgi during the semifinal match of the Pan Pacific Open women's tennis tournament in Tokyo Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018.

The Czech former world number one came into the contest having spent 419 minutes on court this week, more than any other player despite a first round bye and nearly twice as long as Osaka.

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Vekic hit back to take the second as Pliskova's serve imploded, the world number eight blotting her copybook with seven double-faults, many of them coming on key points.

A weary-looking Pliskova dug deep in the decider and the quality of her superior hitting eventually told as she broke Vekic's resolve with a strong start to the third set.

Osaka, however, made quick work of a risky opponent who had knocked out top seed and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, breaking twice in a one-sided first set which she took with a blistering forehand down the line.

"It's the final, so you just forget about all those minutes that you spent on the court".

Pliskova is ninth in the race, with the top eight players qualifying for Singapore.

"The chances of me playing in the next tournament are very low".

The players had split their previous two meetings, but Osaka started the final as favourite after her historic NY triumph.

When asked to explain her lackluster performance, Osaka replied: "If I know I would have fixed it. It's going to be a lot about serves".

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