TOKYO, Sept 13 — Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic powered on at the Japan Women’s Open today by eliminating seventh seed Alison Riske, a day after ushering local favourite Kimiko Date into retirement.
It was a day of upsets at the Tokyo hardcourt tournament, with top seed Kristina Mladenovic the biggest scalp as the Frenchwoman was bundled out 6-4, 6-3 by Croatian qualifier Jana Fett in the first round.
World number 67 Krunic, who whitewashed the 46-year-old Date yesterday, stormed to a 6-3, 6-4 win over American Riske in sweltering conditions to reach the quarter-finals.
Third seed Elise Mertens also booked her place in the last eight, the Belgian overpowering Poland’s Magda Linette 6-1, 7-5.
But there was another surprise later today when Japan’s Miyu Kato toppled fourth seed Kristyna Pliskova — twin sister of world number one Karolina — 7-5, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Krunic.
In first-round matches, Kurumi Nara upset sixth seed Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-0 as the next generation of Japanese tennis players took centre stage after Date’s tearful exit.
Osaka, who reached the third round of the US Open earlier this month after stunning defending champion Angelique Kerber, left her game in the locker room as she came out inexplicably flat.
“I felt really nervous,” shrugged Osaka. “I didn’t cope with the pressure and I just think emotionally I wasn’t really there.”
Australia’s former US Open winner Samantha Stosur was bundled out by Spain’s Sara Sorribes, who came from a set down to beat the fifth seed 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Second seed Zhang Shuai safely progressed to the last 16 by thrashing Dutchwoman Richel Hogenkamp 6-3, 6-3 as Tokyo organisers looked to clear a backlog of matches caused by rain yesterday. — AFP