Tennis

Australian Open: Osaka sets up all-Asian q-final with Hsieh

A "very stressed" Naomi Osaka saved two match-points to outlast Garbine Muguruza yesterday and set up an all-Asian quarter-final against Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei at the Australian Open.

The third seed was on the verge of elimination at 3-5, 15-40 on her serve in the third set before rattling off four points in a row.

She then twice broke the serve of two-time Grand Slam winner Muguruza to prevail 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in one hour and 55 minutes at the Rod Laver Arena, devoid of fans for a second day because of a state-wide coronavirus lockdown.

"I felt like this match I was very stressed. Some people could see it because I wasn't really hyped," said Osaka, who hit 40 winners but made 36 unforced errors.

Osaka's next opponent Hsieh, 35, made history by becoming the oldest player to make a last-eight debut in the Open era after a 6-4, 6-2 win over 19th seed Marketa Vondrousova.

Hsieh has played Osaka, 23, four times, with three of the encounters going to three sets, and the Japanese admitted that she was dreading the match.

"She's one of those players that if it was a video game, I would want to select her character just to play as her," Osaka said.

"My mind can't fathom the choices she makes when she's on the court. It's not fun to play, but it's really fun to watch."

Hsieh, meanwhile, said she would probably get "smashed" by the three-time Grand Slam champion, but was looking forward to testing her problem-solving skills.

The three-time Grand Slam doubles champion said: "I don't really care I win or I lose. I just try my best and play the game."

Hsieh's game is more about placement than power and her unorthodox style can bamboozle very good players.

The winner of this tie will meet Simona Halep or Serena Williams in the semi-finals.

Second seed Halep reached the last eight by defeating Iga Swiatek 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 yesterday, avenging her shock defeat by the Polish teen at the same stage of last year's French Open.

Williams kept her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title going with a hard-fought 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win over Aryna Sabalenka. - REUTERS

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