Japanese fourth seed Osaka battles into Open quarters

Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates her victory against Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova during their women’s singles match on day eight of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2019. (Photo by Peter PARKS / AFP) / — IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE —

MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — Japanese fourth seed Naomi Osaka edged past 13th seed Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in three sets Monday to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals.

The US Open champion triumphed 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to set up a last eight clash with Ukrainian sixth seed Elina Svitolina and keep alive her dream of a second successive Grand Slam title.

It is the second time in a row the 21-year-old had been forced to come back from a set down after struggling to overcome Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei in the previous round.

“I didn’t give up, she was playing really well and I wasn’t really sure what to do at a certain point but I just tried to stick in there,” she said after downing Sevastova.

“I was thinking I’ve been in this position before — actually it was a little bit worse last time.”

Osaka had to compose herself at times on court against the dogged Sevastova, who went into the match with a 2-2 record against the 21-year-old.

Osaka beat the Latvian in a tight three-setter at the quarter-finals of the Sydney International this month and Sevastova appeared intent on exacting revenge on the Grand Slam stage.

The 28-year-old broke early in the opening set, holding on to the advantage to maintain pressure on her younger opponent.

Osaka buried her head in her hands and mumbled to herself as she served to stay in the set at 5-3.

She managed to hold but could not prevent Sevastova serving the set out at 6-4 in 31 minutes.

With her shot at a second Grand Slam on the line, Osaka was much improved in the second set, cutting her error rate and hitting 18 winners to five.

She managed to force a deciding set, making the perfect start with a break over Sevastova.

Shaking off the Latvian proved a difficult task though, as Sevastova put the set back on level terms at 3-3 after bringing up six break points.

Osaka managed a crucial break back in the next game and held on for victory.

© Agence France-Presse