Stuttgart - World No 1 Naomi Osaka defeated Hsieh Su-wei 6-4, 6-3 in Stuttgart on
Thursday to reach her first career clay court quarter-final and admitted
she had been left "depressed" after a "rough few months".
US and Australian Open champion Osaka, who lost to Taiwanese veteran
Hsieh in Miami last month, secured a place in the quarter-finals against
Croatia's Donna Vekic as she launched her preparations for Roland
The Japanese star arrived in Stuttgart, where she last played as a
qualifier in 2017, after suffering early exits in her last three
Osaka has admitted the difficulty of dealing with the trappings of
fame and becoming the world's top player in recent months, a period
which saw her split with coach Sascha Bajin after the Australian Open.
"I am really grateful for everyone that has been really positive
towards me. It was really rough the last couple of months. The kid was
depressed out there."
"If there is one positive thing that I can say about myself, it is
that I learn quickly," said Osaka, who reached the last eight of a
tournament for the first time since her coaching split.
"Definitely I've put a lot on pressure on myself and found it hard to deal with in the first few tournaments.
"Now I start trying to have fun out there, which is what I did before I was number one."
Osaka, 21, broke Hsieh three times in total to beat Hsieh for the
second time in three attempts this year, having also defeated her on the
way to lifting the title in Melbourne.
"I did feel like I am in control, but I also felt she is taking more risks than me," said Osaka.
"She's a really tricky opponent. You never really know what she's going to do."
Osaka needed 84 minutes to dispatch the unconventional Hsieh,
ensuring she will hold on to top spot in the rankings for at least
She is less than 200 points ahead of Simona Halep in the WTA
rankings, although the Romanian pulled out of this week's tournament
with a hip injury.
Top seed Osaka fought off the only two break points she faced, in a
lengthy service hold for 2-all in the opening set, before breaking Hsieh
in the following game.
That was sufficient to wrap up the first set, and a Hsieh
double-fault handed Osaka a break to start the second before she closed
out victory with another service break in a performance that featured 22
winners and just 16 unforced errors.
Osaka will meet Vekic, a 6-1, 7-5 winner over Daria Kasatkina, for a
spot in the last four, while Latvian seventh seed Anastasija Sevastova
defeated 2017 champion Laura Siegemund 6-4, 6-3.
Sevastova will meet third-ranked Petra Kvitova next.
German number one Angelique Kerber, who won in Stuttgart in 2015 and
2016, put away good friend Andrea Petkovic on her fourth match point to
progress 6-2, 6-4.
Estonia's Anett Kontaveit eased past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3,
6-2, while Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens took down Belinda Bencic 4-6, 6-3,
Defending champion Karolina Pliskova rounds out Thursday's action
against a jetlagged Victoria Azarenka, who said she had "no idea right
now of the time or what's happening" after her first-round win over Vera
Azarenka flew in to Germany from Australia where she had played in a Fed Cup tie in Brisbane at the weekend.
Results from the WTA tournament in Stuttgart on Thursday (x denotes seeding):
Naomi Osaka (JPN x1) bt Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 6-4, 6-3
Donna Vekic (CRO) bt Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 6-1, 7-5
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) bt Karolina Pliskova (CZE x4) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Anett Kontaveit (EST x8) bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-3, 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT x7) bt Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-4, 6-3
Kiki Bertens (NED x6) bt Belinda Bencic (SUI) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Angelique Kerber (GER x5) bt Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-2, 6-4