Toronto | Osaka’s path to No.1 could be jeopardised by Williams
The race between Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova for the top spot on next week’s rankings list, intensified as both the cleared the last 16 of the Rogers Cup in Toronto in the hope that they will meet in the final for a deciding match.
Hopefully just being able to stay in the rhythm and playing this week and next week would be good. Serena Williams
Osaka would seem to have the more difficult path to that goal as she faces Serena Williams next following her 7-6(4) 6-4 win over Poland’s Iga Swiatek, and if successful over the American, a possible semi-final clash with the French Open champion, Simona Halep, the defending champion.
Pliskova meanwhile, having dispatched Anett Kontaveit 6-3 7-5, faces Bianca Andreescu of Canada who will have the crowd behind her. The Czech’s likely semi-final opponent will be either Sonia Kenin who upset the current world No.1 Ashleigh Barty, or Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine.
Reigning US and Australian Open champion Osaka broke to love in the final game to defeat Polish teen Swiatek after one hour and 51 minutes while world number 10 Williams was broken twice and dropped the first three games in 10 minutes, before battling back to defeat Russia’s 48th-ranked Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-5 6-4 in 91-minutes.
The stage is now set for 37-year-old Williams to avenge her loss at last year’s US Open final in which she lost control and had a mental meltdown!
Williams, speaking before she knew who her quarter-final opponent would be, said either would be worthy foes.
“It will be a good match, whoever wins,” Williams said. “Both players are playing well in this tournament in particular, so I’ll be ready for her.”
Alexandrova broke Williams – a three time former Canadian champion — in the first and third games only to be rolled over in the next four games.
“I’m feeling good,” Williams, who admitted she was struggling to make the transition from grass to hard courts, said. “Hopefully just being able to stay in the rhythm and playing this week and next week would be good.”
Czech third seed Pliskova eliminated Estonia’s Kontaveit to set up a last-eight clash with Andreescu, who outlasted the fifth-seeded Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 6-1 6-7(7) 6-4.
Defending champion and fourth seed Simona Halep of Romania, coming off a Wimbledon title last month, beat Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 6-1 to book a quarter-final against Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova, who ousted Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-2 while Sofia Kenin beat Dayana Yastremska 6-2 6-2