Pliskova ousts Osaka to take Pan Pacific title


US Open champion Naomi Osaka withdrew from the Wuhan Open in central China's Hubeil Province yesterday, hours after losing to former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in the final of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

Pliskova came into Sunday's final having won her last four dating to the Brisbane International in January 2017 - and kept that streak alive while putting an end to Osaka's 10-match winning streak.

"Naomi was maybe a little bit exhausted, you could see that".

Osaka, who has not dropped a set this week, will now face world number eight Karolina Pliskova in Sunday's final after she beat Donna Vekic.

Playing in her first tournament since upsetting Serena Williams to win the U.S. Open on September 8, third-seeded Osaka hadn't dropped a set previous to Sunday's final but was frustrated from the outset by the big-serving Czech player.

The players had split their previous two meetings, but Osaka started the final as favorite after her NY triumph.

The unseeded 22-year-old broke Garcia five times on route to a comfortable victory, her first over the Frenchwoman.

Both players are in the top 10 in terms of number of aces served on the tour this year.

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The 20-year-old, looked at a loss for ideas against Pliskova, six years her senior, and buried her head in a towel during the changeover.

But Pliskova slowly turned the screw and broke for 3-2 with a fizzing backhand which her opponent swished well wide. Osaka whacked her racket against her sneakers in anger at her wastefulness and, as the strain began to show, she called for her coach Sascha Bajin before groaning: "I feel so stressed out". Osaka played another excellent match and ran out a deserved 6-2 6-3 victor to reach the final.

"To play the final of the U.S. Open and then to come here, I think I did pretty well", Osaka said.

"I didn't want to try to overpower her because I think she just has more power than me".

For Pliskova, it was a first tournament victory since Stuttgart in April - and the first since wedding long-time partner Michal Hrdlicka in the summer.

"It was another long one today", Pliskova said after the match. I have my weapons, she also has hers.

In contrast, a tearful Osaka could barely bring herself to speak at the trophy presentation.

"I have literally never been so exhausted in my entire life", she told reporters.