’s-Hertogenbosch | Osaka lines up Andreescu 

Former World No 1 Naomi Osaka will meet Bianca Andreescu in the Libéma Open ’s-Hertogenbosch quarter-finals in the Netherlands, after both advanced in straight sets on Wednesday, while much of the draw played catch-up to complete the remaining 2nd-round of matches, delayed due to rain interruptions over the first few days.

I remember, and I know this for a fact, that she's a great player [Bianca Andreescu]. It feels really cool that we're playing again this year. I know we're both trying to come back, and we're almost, kind of, back, so this is really fun. I anticipate a really difficult match. She's a player, to me, who's really fun to play against because she can change anything in the match, like her play style, or where she stands. Naomi Osaka

Osaka comfortably defeated Dutch wild-card Suzan Lamens, 6-2 6-2, and Andreescu upset 6th-seeded Yuan Yue of China, 6-4 6-4, to set up a Last 8 contest between the two.

Coming off an outstanding opening-round win over Belgian 4th seed Elise Mertens, Osaka continued her confident start to the grass season by blowing past Lamens in just 54 minutes.

The first set went on serve until the 6th game, both players struggling to adapt to blustery conditions, before Osaka took the initiative, breaking the Dutchwoman’s serve with a series of powerful drives off both wings, helped by some unforced errors from Lamens.

More errors in the next Dutch service game handed the Japanese the first set after only 26 minutes, and Osaka also proved too strong for her opponent at the start of the second as well, breaking her first service game with a string of winners to race into a 3-0 lead, and then wrapped the match up when Lamens dumped another groundstroke into the net.

Despite serving at just 39%, the Japanese 4-time Grand Slam champion landed 9 aces and did not face a break point in the match, while she finished with 21 winners to 13 unforced errors, converting 4 of her 5 break-point chances.

“Strangely, I think grass may be more physical than clay for me,” Osaka said. “That’s in terms of, once you’re in the corner, you have to have the strength to get out of the corner, or the point is basically over with, and that’s where I felt very confident. Maybe that’s translating in my playing.”

Osaka has yet to make it past the 3rd-round on the Wimbledon grass, but appears to be gradually coming back to the form that took her to World No 1.


Former World No 1 Naomi Osaka is currently ranked 125, but a good run at the Libéma Open could see her rise into the Top 100 again

Libéma Open/Facebook

Her latest win sets up a marquee quarter-final match-up against Andreescu on Friday, in a contest that pits the 2018 US Open champion against the 2019 US Open champion in just their second career meeting.

It will be Osaka’s first quarter-final since the Qatar TotalEnergies Open in February, and her first on grass since Nottingham in 2018.

Osaka won the only prior meeting against the Canadian, which came in the 2019 China Open quarter-finals, when the reigning Australian Open champion came from a set down to win 5-7 6-3 6-4, and ending the reigning US Open champion’s 17-match win streak.

The Japanese went on to defeat World No 1 Ash Barty, who had picked up her first major title at Roland Garros that year, for the title.

“I remember, and I know this for a fact, that she’s a great player,” Osaka said. “It feels really cool that we’re playing again this year. I know we’re both trying to come back, and we’re almost, kind of, back, so this is really fun.

“I anticipate a really difficult match. She’s a player, to me, who’s really fun to play against because she can change anything in the match, like her play style, or where she stands.”

In just her second tournament back from a 9-month injury layoff, Andreescu has advanced to her first Hologic WTA Tour quarter-final in over a year, and her first on grass since 2022.

“We’ve had, in a way, similar careers,” Andreescu said of Osaka. “It’s not the same, but we won at a very young age, and then had a break here, and a break there. Being back on court with her, I think it’s great for tennis. And also being role models, because we didn’t have a linear career like, say, Iga [Swiatek].

“Hopefully that motivates and inspires other people too. We can show that we’re also happy when we’re not winning, because tennis is just tennis, but then there’s this whole other life that we can discover. I feel like we’re both at that level, and it’s nice to see.”

A win over Andreescu would put Osaka into her first semi-final of the season, as well as on the verge of a return to the Top 100 from her current ranking of 125 in the world.

“I definitely think matches like that help my growth a lot,” said Osaka, reflecting on her 3-set loss to Swiatek in Paris after having a match point. “It’s really weird, because I reflect on the Iga match and, for me, it’s kind of crazy, because I’m not sure I knew that I could play at that level. I always felt, like, it was in me, but I guess I needed that specific occasion to bring it out.

“So yeah, matches like these against Bianca are what I love, what I train for, and hopefully it makes everyone else as excited.”


Bianca Andreescu set up a Last 8 contest with Naomi Osaka after upsetting No 6 seed Yuan Yue in straight sets

© Sander Koning/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

Andreescu had to save 5 of 6 break points in her match against Yuan on Wednesday, and also weathered a rain delay to win after an hour and 21 minutes of play.

Learning to love the grass, the Canadian has found the turf’s quick, variable conditions suit her game just as well as hard courts.

“I love that the points are short and sweet,” Andreescu said. “The grass, since it’s much faster, it gives me less time to think.

“On clay, I have more time to think and maybe overthink too much, and then I choose the wrong shot at the wrong time.”

Playing in her second event of the year, the Canadian returned at the French Open after sustaining a back injury at the National Bank Open in Montreal last August.

“Quarter-finals sounds really nice, so I’m very happy,” Andreescu said after her match. “I don’t want to get too excited, not focusing too much on the good things, or the bad things, and attaching myself too much. I just want to take it as it is.”

In Paris, Andreescu made it to the 3rd round, where she lost to eventual finalist Jasmine Paolini in 3 sets, and the 23-year-old had acquitted herself well.

“I was actually happy that the clay-court season wasn’t very long for me, which I was happy about,” Andreescu said. “I feel like my game has really evolved on hard, and grass, rather than clay. I don’t know why that is, because before clay used to be one of my favourite surfaces. When I was 17, 18 I was doing really well. And then I don’t know what happened.”


Greet Minnen upset Donna Vekic, the No 7 seed, but needed 3 sets to do so on Wednesday

Libéma Open/Facebook

Also on Wednesday, Belgium’s Greet Minnen eliminated 7th-seeded Donna Vekic of Croatia, 6-1 0-6 7-5, to also advance into the quarters, where she will meet 2nd-seeded Liudmila Samsonova from Russia, who beat Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck, 6-1 6-3, to reach the Last 16.

Also through to round 2 is No 5 seed Veronika Kudermetova, the 2023 runner-up here, who is also from Russia, after defeating China’s Bai Zhuoxuan, 7-5 6-1.

Qualifier Robin Montgomery notched the 4th Top 50 win of her career with a 3-set upset of No 8 seed Magda Linette Poland in a 1st-round match which had been suspended overnight at 5-5 in the third set, but the 19-year-old returned to win the last 2 games on resumption.

The American will meet Jule Niemeier next, after the German held her first 2 match points against Denmark’s Clara Tauson at 5-4 in the second set, and then needed a decider to eventually win their 1st-round encounter, 6-4 6-7(3) 6-4.


The Libéma Open show court at ’s-Hertogenbosch, Rosmalen, in the Netherlands

Libéma Open/Facebook

Previous

Next

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com