Osaka beats Strycova to reach semifinals at Pan Pacific Open

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TOKYO — Naomi Osaka raised her game when she needed to, and it landed her a spot in the semifinals of the Pan Pacific Open.

The U.S. Open champion, who upset Serena Williams in the final in New York this month, won her ninth straight match Friday, beating Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-4.

“This was my third time playing her, and each time it was very close, so I knew she was very good,” said the third-seeded Osaka, the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Osaka will next face Camila Giorgi, who advanced after Victoria Azarenka retired from their match with a gastrointestinal illness in the first set. Giorgi was leading 5-3 when the match ended.

The 20-year-old Osaka converted all three of her break points and won 80 percent of points on her first serve. She hit 26 winners and had an equal number of unforced errors.

“I feel like I adjusted,” Osaka said. “I knew that I wasn’t playing that great today, but I still adjusted and I managed to win. I never know why certain things aren’t working, but I feel like it’s my job to make sure that I do the best that I can in that situation.”

Osaka broke the eighth-seeded Strycova to take a 3-1 lead in the first set but was soon broken back. Leading 4-3, that’s when Osaka took control. She immediately earned two break points, and Strycova double-faulted on the first one to put Osaka ahead 5-3.

In the second set, double-faults again cost Strycova, who was broken at 2-2.

Osaka has been in the spotlight both on and off the court since she arrived back in Japan following her victory in New York. Friday’s match at Tachikawa Arena was sold old and Osaka’s progress up the rankings has been the focus of Japanese talk shows.

She has received congratulatory messages from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and attended the ongoing sumo tournament in Tokyo.

Also Friday, fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova defeated Alison Riske 6-1, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4). She will next play Donna Vekic, who beat second-seeded Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-4.

Sakkari through to Parma Open quarterfinals; Stephens loses

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PARMA, Italy — Top-seeded Maria Sakkari rallied past Arantxa Rus 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the Parma Ladies Open.

Sakkari, who accepted a late wild card to the red clay court tournament, was playing her first event since losing to Wang Xiyu in the second round of the U.S. Open.

The Greek player will next face Maryna Zanevska of Belgium after she eased past Dalma Galfi 6-1, 6-3.

Fourth-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, lost to Danka Kovinic 7-5, 2-6, 7-5.

Kovinic will face Jasmine Paolini in the quarterfinals after the Italian defeated compatriot Elisabetta Cocciaretto 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

There will be an American in the final eight, however, as Lauren Davis rallied to beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Sorribes Tormo had eliminated second-seeded Martina Trevisan in straight sets in the opening round.

Davis will play Mayar Sherif after the Egyptian player defeated Simona Waltert 6-3, 7-6 (1).

Also, third-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania eased past Italian wild card Matilde Paoletti 6-4, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal against sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan, who beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Sorribes Tormo beats 2nd-seeded Trevisan at Parma Open

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PARMA, Italy — Sara Sorribes Tormo beat second-seeded Martina Trevisan 7-5, 6-0 in the opening round of the Parma Ladies Open – marking the third consecutive first-round loss for this year’s French Open semifinalist.

Third-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu advanced when Viktoriya Tomova retired with Begu leading 7-5, 5-1.

Danka Kovinic beat Oceane Dodin 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 and will next face 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Also on the red clay courts, Mayar Sherif of Egypt eliminated fifth-seeded Anna Bondar 7-5, 6-4; Elisabetta Cocciaretto defeated seventh-seeded Nuria Parrizas Diaz 7-5, 6-1; and Italian wild card Matilde Paoletti earned her first tour-level win by beating Romanian qualifier Gabriela Lee 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.