AFP BEIJING (AFP-Jiji) — U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka overcame her emotions to roar back and defeat unseeded Zhang Shuai 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a roller-coaster China Open quarterfinal on Friday.
The 20-year-old Japanese was broken in her first two service games and had tears in her eyes as the match threatened to slip away in the second set.
But the world No. 6 gathered herself and — although she continued to look glum and flung her racket about — found the resolve to pull through over three nail-biting sets.
Osaka will next face unseeded Latvian Anastasija Sevastova, who defeated Slovak Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).
The 45th-ranked Zhang — with the Beijing crowd on her side — raced into an early lead against an unusually erratic Osaka, who had won 24 of her previous 28 games.
The eighth seed, who stunned Serena Williams to win her maiden Grand Slam last month in New York, belatedly began finding some range.
But she continued to rack up errors and conceded the first set when she hit into the net. She was to make 66 unforced errors in all.
The 29-year-old Zhang, who has won two career WTA singles titles, saved six break points to take the lead in the second set.
Zhang broke to go 2-0 up and Osaka — who has admitted struggling with the fallout from the U.S. Open final, when Williams rowed with the chair umpire — began welling up.
But Osaka defied her emotions to avoid the upset, although she barely raised a smile even in victory.
In the men’s quarterfinals, Italian Fabio Fognini continued his march towards a fourth title of the season with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Marton Fucsovics of Hungary.
Top seed Juan Martin del Potro swept aside unseeded Serbian Filip Krajinovic 6-3, 6-0.
Meanwhile in a late match Thursday, second seed Alexander Zverev was dealt a surprise three-set defeat by world No. 61 Malek Jaziri.
With his coach Ivan Lendl looking on stony-faced, the German prodigy exited in the last 16, the indefatigable Tunisian Jaziri winning 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 6-4.