Singapore | Kerber ousts Osaka
Angelique Kerber produced a stunning display of defensive tennis to see off the big-hitting Naomi Osaka in a classic Red Group encounter between the last two Grand Slam champions at the WTA Finals on Wednesday.
Naomi is such a great opponent. She played unbelievable and I think we both played on a really high-level tonight Angelique Kerber
The top seed came through against Osaka at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, sending the Japanese to the brink of elimination in the year-end championships.
The two 2018 Grand Slam champions produced a classy, highly competitive match that either could have won, but it was the current Wimbledon champion who outlasted the 3rd-seeded US Open winner, 6-4 5-7 6-4, over 2 hours and 30 minutes to pull her record to an even 1-1 in round robin action in Singapore.
Both players made tentative starts to a match that began with 3 consecutive breaks of serve in the German’s favour as Osaka looked to dictate with her power, while Kerber was content to counter-punch off the back foot and keep the ball in play.
In a match that included 11 breaks of serve, the first hold came in the 4th game from Kerber, while the rest of the first set went with serve, despite Osaka having a triple break point in the final game.
Osaka fashioned 5 break points when Kerber served for the set at 5-4, but the German was able to stave off all of them with some gutsy tennis and sealed the opener with a booming serve.
“I had my chances in the second set but sh e played some unbelievable tennis to win that one, and it felt like there was only one or two points in the decider,” the Wimbledon champion told reporters after the match.
The third set was a war of attrition, with both players stretching every sinew to hold serve.
“Naomi is such a great opponent. She played unbelievable and I think we both played on a really high-level tonight,” Kerber said on-court after the match.
“I think that I started really well, and the second set was a really close set. I had my chances, but she played unbelievable in the important moments, and I think it was just one or two points that decided the match.”
Kerber, 30, now has one win from two in the Red Group, while Osaka, 21, has lost both of her round-robin matches.