Red-hot Osaka powers past Giorgi into Tokyo final


TOKYO: U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka stormed past Italy’s Camila Giorgi 6-2 6-3 on Saturday to reach the final of the Pan Pacific Open, where she will face Karolina Pliskova.

Osaka’s victory in front of an expectant home crowd was her 10th in a row and did not look in doubt from the moment the world number seven pounded down a huge ace with her first serve of the match.

The 20-year-old, who became Japan’s first Grand Slam singles champion in New York two weeks ago, hit a further eight aces to overwhelm world number 37 Giorgi.

Osaka has carried the poise and power that saw her overcome Serena Williams in the Flushing Meadows final across the Pacific with her and, helped by eight double-faults from Giorgi, wrapped up the victory in just 72 minutes.

A runner-up at this event two years ago, Osaka has not dropped a set so far this week and has had her service broken just once.

“It’s a bit surprising but I felt kind of calm going into the first round match and a lot of people were surprised because they thought I would be very nervous,” Osaka told reporters of her stunning run of form.

“Today was the first match that I felt nervous. But other than that I feel like I’ve been playing well and I’ve been trying to set little goals for myself,” she said.

“Because if you set a really high goal, then normally, for me at least, I tend to overwhelm myself. I’m trying to stay at a consistent level so hopefully, I can keep doing that,” she added.

Osaka advanced to face world number eight Pliskova in the final after the big-serving Czech outlasted Croatia’s Donna Vekic 6-2 4-6 6-3 in a topsy-turvy match that lasted more than two hours.