UPDATE2: Tennis: Sasnovich stuns Pliskova to reach Pan Pacific q’finals

Aliaksandra Sasnovich fired Japan’s Naomi Osaka a warning shot with a stunning straight-sets win over U.S. Open finalist and world No. 6 Karolina Pliskova on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinal of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

The Belarusian qualifier, ranked 107th in the world, meets Osaka in the last eight on Friday after pulling off a 6-4, 6-2 victory over her Czech opponent in 73 minutes at Ariake Colosseum.

“I was very focused. I was ready to go to Wuhan for the next tournament because I know Karolina is a really good player and I didn’t think I would win today,” said the 22-year-old Sasnovich, referring to the Wuhan Open set to get under way Sunday in the Chinese city.

“But you know, it is life and it is tennis and the ball is round. I am really happy with my win.”

“I have a lot of emotion. It is my first win against a top 10 player. I am really happy with it and I am looking forward to the next round,” she added.

Sasnovich moved into a 4-2 lead and after Pliskova fought back to pull level, she broke the Czech for a third time before going on to take the first set when her opponent overhit her return.

Pliskova threw her racket to the floor in frustration during the break before the start of the second set, and she surrendered serve again by dumping a return into the net to hand Sasnovich a 3-2 advantage.

Sasnovich survived two break points to extend her lead and went 5-2 up before going on to secure victory on her second match point.

Eighteen-year-old wild card Osaka booked her spot in the last eight with a stunning 6-2, 6-1 defeat of world No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia on Wednesday.

“I saw some of her (Osaka’s) matches and she is a really good player. She is young but she is really good. But there is nothing for me to lose and no pressure,” said Sasnovich, who will meet 66th-ranked Osaka for the first time on the WTA Tour.

Pliskova, who beat Venus and Serena Williams en route to the U.S. Open final before falling to current world No. 1 Angelique Kerber, said she was not prepared for Thursday’s match.

“I lost so that’s it,” she said. “I wasn’t ready for the tournament and the match. I came over here when the weather was not good so didn’t have a chance to practice. That’s why it was like this. I still wanted to play somehow but it wasn’t the best tennis.”

Top-seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza avenged her shock second-round loss at the U.S. Open by beating Latvian Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-3.

The French Open champion and world No. 3 will next play Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, who wrapped up the day’s second-round action with a 7-6(5), 6-4 win over eighth-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

“It was a surprise for me (to be playing against Sevastova) as the last match I played was against her but well, I guess I had my revenge this time. This is tennis, but I think this is a good match for me,” said Muguruza.

“I am so happy that this is the year that I am top seed (here). It means that I am improving and hopefully I can be in the final.”

In Thursday’s first second-round match, Polish qualifier Magda Linette rallied to outlast Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, booking a quarterfinal meeting with 2010 Pan Pacific champion Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

“That was crazy,” joked Linette, who needed nearly three hours to beat Putintseva. I hope she (Wozniacki) didn’t watch it.”

“She (Wozniacki) puts everything in and I don’t know what I’m going to do. Today was tough but I will try to recover as much as I can for tomorrow.”

The Japanese pair of Shuko Aoyama and Makoto Ninomiya were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the doubles competition, going down 7-6(5), 7-6(6) to Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain.


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