WTA Rome: Naomi Osaka withdraws, sending Kiki Bertens into the semis
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 15793
World no. 1 Naomi Osaka has played some good tennis on clay this spring, reaching the semi-final in Stuttgart (had to withdraw due to an abdominal injury) and the quarter-final in Madrid where she served for the match against Belinda Bencic.
The 31-year-old Japanese kicked off the Rome campaign in strong style on Thursday, beating Dominika Cibulkova and Mihaela Buzarnescu to advance into the first quarter-final in the Italian capital, setting the clash against Madrid champion Kiki Bertens.
Unfortunately, the crowd will not be able to watch that match today, with Naomi withdrawing due to a right hand injury. Naomi has secured the top seed status at Roland Garros but will not be able to fight for more wins and points in Rome, sending Bertens into the second Rome semi-final after 2017.
There, the newly-crowned world no. 4 will face Marketa Vondrousova or Johanna Konta, with an excellent chance to secure the place in another big final on clay after Madrid where she claimed the first Premier Mandatory crown in a career.
As we already said, Naomi delivered two solid wins on Thursday, needing an hour and 42 minutes to take down Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 6-3, saving seven out of eight break points and stealing the rival's serve four times to move into the third round.
There, she spent less time on the court in an identical 6-3, 6-3 victory over Mihaela Buzarnescu, dropping just ten points on serve and forging the advantage with four breaks of serve but feeling some pain that slid her away from the court today.
In the other quarter-final encounters, Kristina Mladenovic plays against Maria Sakkari, Victoria Azarenka versus Karolina Pliskova in what should be a cracking match and Johanna Konta with Marketa Vondrousova who toppled Simona Halep yesterday.