Defending champion Naomi Osaka pulled out of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo on Thursday with stomach pain, giving Beatriz © a free pass into the quarter-finals, where she will meet Veronika Kudermetova, while Petra Martic upset Karolina Pliskova and Luidmila Samsonova also advanced into the Last 8.
I'm really happy with today's match. Karolina is a great player, beat me quite a few times in the past. I expected a tough match and I'm just happy to win it. Petra Martic
24-year old Osaka was set to play the Brazilian 5th seed in the 2nd-round, but withdrew ahead of the match.
“I am really sorry that I am not able to compete today,” Osaka said in a statement released by organisers. “It’s an honour to be able to play at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in front of the amazing fans here in Japan.
“This has and always will be a special tournament for me and I wish I could have stepped on court today, but my body won’t let me.
“Thank you for all your support this week and I will see you next year.”
A champion in 2019 when the tournament was temporarily held in Osaka, the former World No 1 advanced to the 2nd-round this year when Aussie Daria Saville was forced to retire because of a left knee injury after just 7 minutes on court.
Osaka, a 4-time Grand Slam winner, was looking to improve her form in Tokyo in front of home fans as the defending champion and, ahead of the tournament, the Japanese No 1 told reporters that she was feeling fit and healthy again after her injury-plagued season.
“I think, of course, the year has been not the best year for me but, I think, overall I’ve learned a lot about myself,” Osaka said. “I’m happy to be healthy because, in Europe, I did injure myself and that was the first injury that took me that long to get healed.
“I think life is ups and downs, and this one was more down than up but, overall, I’m happy with where I am right now.”
Haddad Maia’s quarter-final opponent is 4th-seeded Kudermetova from Russia, who blitzed past 17-year old Andorran qualifier Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva in 56 minutes with the loss of just one game.
Elsewhere, Martic, who is ranked 46 and from Croatia, upset Pliskova, the 2018 champion in Tokyo and World No 20, advancing to the quarters with a 6-3 6-4 win over the 6th seed from the Czech Republic.
“I’m really happy with today’s match,” said Martic, who played the bigger points better. “Karolina is a great player, beat me quite a few times in the past.
“I expected a tough match and I’m just happy to win it.”
Martic saved 9 of 10 break points, including 4 in the 5th game of the second set, and used her sliced backhand to great effect, breaking serve 4 times to make her first Tokyo quarter-final after an hour and 35 minutes.
Pliskova finished the match with 23 winners to 25 unforced errors, while Martic struck 17 winners to 22 miscues, but it was the Czech’s missed opportunities that basically determined the outcome in the Croatian’s favour.
Into her 4th quarter-final of the season, Martic will face China’s Zhang Shuai next.
Meanwhile, Samsonova, ranked 30, followed Martic into the quarters later in the day, defeating China’s Wang Xinyu, 7-6(5) 6-3.
The Russian, who has now won 15 of her last 16 matches, will face the No 3 seed from Spain, Garbiñe Muguruza in the Last 8.
With the roof closed due to the rain, Samsonova fired 13 aces and faced just 2 break points in the match.
“It’s not easy to play indoor when you prepare the match outdoors,” Samsonova admitted. “So it was a little bit different conditions.
“She was playing amazing, I think she’s a great player already. My serve today was, hopefully, good enough to maintain my game.”