WTA Cincinnati: Naomi Osaka, Vekic, Stephens, Kenin and Pliskova advance

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WTA Cincinnati: Naomi Osaka, Vekic, Stephens, Kenin and Pliskova advance

Not playing at her best once again, the 2nd seed and world no. 1 Naomi Osaka defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 in two hours and seven minutes to reach the third round. Osaka suffered four breaks of serve and delivered as many from five opportunities to stay in contention, wasting a 5-3 advantage in the first set before taking it 7-3 in the tie break after three mini-breaks.

Sasnovich was the player to beat in set number two, serving well and delivering breaks in games five and seven to close it with a hold at love for a 6-2. With no room for errors, Naomi raised the level in the decider, dropping three points in her games and moving over the top with comfortable breaks in games two and eight for the place in the next round.

Sofia Kenin needed an hour and 12 minutes to dismiss Zarina Diyas 6-4, 6-1, fending off all five break points and earning four breaks to cross the finish line in not time at all and save energy after a grueling Toronto campaign.

From 3-4 down, Sofia shifted into a higher gear and rattled off nine of the next ten points to storm over her rival and seize another win in a breakthrough season. The 16th seed Madison Keys proved to be too strong for the struggling Russian Daria Kasatkina, notching a 6-4, 6-1 victory in 73 minutes after losing serve only once and dominating on the return.

Actually, Daria was 4-3 in front when Madison produced a one-player show, winning nine of the last ten games to sail towards the finish line, happy with the way she performed in front of the home crowd. Donna Vekic overpowered Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 7-5 in an hour and 23 minutes, continuing where she left against the Belarusian in San Jose a few weeks ago.

The Croat lost serve only once and the pressure was on Azarenka all the time, overcoming a 6-2, 4-2 deficit to stay in touch in set number two before Vekic grabbed 12 of the last 15 points to avoid more drama and advance into the last 16.

Sloane Stephens made a slow start in what could have been another early exit before battling past Yulia Putintseva a-6, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and seven minutes, in the match with seven breaks on each side. Yulia won four points more overall but that wasn't enough to carry her home, leading in the third set before Sloane broke her three times in a row to cross the finish line first and stay in the tournament.

The 3rd seed Karolina Pliskova ousted Yafan Wang 6-1, 6-3 in 71 minutes, dropping 13 points on serve and controlling the pace on the return as well with five breaks of serve from nine opportunities, storming over the Chinese in the opener and sealing the deal in straight sets to stay in the title chase.

Anett Kontaveit prevailed against a teenager Iga Swiatek 6-4, 7-6 in just under two hours, prevailing with a late break in the opening set and coming back from 5-3 down in the second to reach the tie break and leave the young Pole behind.