WTA Cincinnati: Naomi Osaka retires to propel Sofia Kenin into the semis


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WTA Cincinnati: Naomi Osaka retires to propel Sofia Kenin into the semis

For the second week in a row, Sofia Kenin will play in the Premier 5 semi-final following wins over world no. 1 players, beating Ashleigh Barty in Toronto and Naomi Osaka in Cincinnati. The Japanese was forced to retire while trailing 6-4, 1-6, 2-0 after an hour and 30 minutes, struggling with a left knee injury and not being able to carry home the momentum from the second set, staying without WTA title since the Australian Open.

Thus, Sofia has become the first player since Lindsay Davenport in October 2001 to topple world no. 1 rivals in back-to-back weeks, earning enough points to secure the spot in the top-20 for the first time on Monday. Thanks to that second set, Naomi won seven points more than her opponent but that wasn't the primary stat today, starting to feel the pain at the beginning of the third set and having to withdraw immediately, not wanting to risk anything at the US Open where she has to defend the title.

Sofia saved eight out of ten break chances and grabbed two breaks that kept her in the match, finding the rhythm again after a mediocre second set and not staying for too long on the court. The young American claimed the first break in the third game thanks to a forehand winner, saving three break chances in games six and eight to maintain the lead before holding with a forehand winner in game ten for a 6-4.

Osaka broke in the second game of the second set with a forehand down the line winner, fending off three break points in the next game and earning another break for a 4-0 advantage after a lucky net cord. The Japanese closed the set with a backhand down the line winner in game seven, taking the set 6-1 and hoping for more of the same in the decider.

Instead of that, her knee started to hurt in the second game, receiving a medical timeout and trying to continue with the encounter that proved to be the mission impossible, retiring and sending Kenin into the last four.