Toronto | Osaka and Pliskova race for No1
Naomi Osaka required just the one win at the Toronto Rogers Cup this week to replace Ashleigh Barty at the top of the rankings following the Australian’s surprise loss 24-hours earlier.
Osaka breezed past her German opponent in their second round of the WTA Premier 5 event. The Japanese star stormed into a 6-2 lead only for her opponent, Tatjana Maria to concede the match by retiring.
However her reign at the top may be for just a few days if Karolina Pliskova goes deep into the tournament.
If Osaka reaches the quarter-final or semi-final, Pliskova would need to reach the final, or otherwise defeat the Japanese star in the final to be No.1.
Pliskova, the first Czech ever to hold the top spot, opened her campaign in Toronto perfectly by beating Alison Riske, the American who snapped Barty’s 15-match winning streak in the Wimbledon fourth round last month.
The Czech defeated Riske 6-4 6-7(4) 6-2 and will face Anett Kontaveit, whose previous opponent Carla Suarez Navarro retired while trailing 7-5 3-1.
Elsewhere, Halep survived a stern test from American qualifier Jennifer Brady with a 4-6 7-5 7-6(5) victory to reach the last 16 and keep alive her hopes of a second consecutive title in Toronto.
Fourth seed Halep, who requested a medical timeout to get treatment on her left leg after the second set, clinched the two-hour 26-minute battle on her second match point when a Brady backhand caught the top of the net.
Meanwhile the threat of Serena Williams, seeded eight, looms as she powered her way past Elise Mertens 6-3 6-3, recovering from a break down in both sets.
In other early action, Ukrainian sixth seed Elina Svitolina, who won in Toronto two years ago, beat Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-3 3-6 6-3 while Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska did well to shake off the nerves and secure a 7-5 7-5 upset victory over former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka.