Former world number one Naomi Osaka was dumped out of the ‘s-Hertogenbosch grass-court tournament in a deciding tie-break thriller on Friday, ending an encouraging run on the surface ahead of Wimbledon.
A battling performance by Canadian Bianca Andreescu, ranked a lowly 228 in the world, took her into the semi-finals with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3) victory over the four-time Grand Slam champion.
Andreescu will next face Dalma Galfi from Hungary for a place in tomorrow’s final, with the draw opening up after the defeat of top seed Jessica Pegula.
“For me today it was just about trying my best to stay in the present moment. She has a great serve, my focus was just to get the ball back into the court on return,” Andreescu said after the match.
“Staying mentally tough was key today.”
Two lengthy rain breaks meant both players struggled for consistency early in the match, which went on serve until the seventh game when Andreescu seized the initiative.
A powerful return down the line and an Osaka error handed the Canadian a break, which she backed up with a love service game marked by a string of mistakes from the Japanese player.
Andreescu managed to serve out the first set 6-4 in 40 minutes, cleverly breaking up Osaka’s rhythm with heavily sliced drop shots.
But the Japanese hit back instantly in the second set, breaking Andreescu’s first service game with a sweet crosscourt forehand drive on break point and racing to a 3-0 lead. An Andreescu double fault gifted her opponent the double break and Osaka closed out the second set 6-3 with a service winner.
The only previous match between the pair was a nail-biting three-setter in Beijing in 2019 and the third set was also closely fought.
A fired-up Andreescu broke Osaka’s serve in the sixth game, wowing the crowd with some outstanding retrieving and inventive spins.
She served for the match, but Osaka battled back with a break of her own, taking the contest into a final set tie-break.
Both women had their chances in the shoot-out, but Andreescu held her nerve better, Osaka making several unforced errors including on match point, as she dumped a backhand into the net.
Osaka has never played her best tennis on grass, her four Grand Slam victories have come on the hard courts at the US and Australian Open.
But she has showed she could be a force at Wimbledon this year as she continues her return after giving birth to her daughter.
Osaka had a match point against eventual French Open winner Iga Swiatek in the second round, the sternest test the world number one faced on the Paris clay.

Sinner to play singles and doubles at Paris Olympics
Newly-crowned world number one Jannik Sinner will play singles as well as doubles alongside Lorenzo Musetti at the Paris Olympics, the Italian tennis federation said on Friday.
The 22-year-old Sinner will compete at an Olympics for the first time on the clay courts of Roland Garros where he made the semi-finals of the French Open last week.
Sinner has claimed three titles in 2024, his maiden Grand Slam at the Australian Open, Rotterdam and Miami.
Sinner, 30th-ranked Musetti, Matteo Arnaldi, the world number 34, and 41st-ranked Luciano Darderi will play singles in Paris.
In doubles, the Sinner-Musetti pairing will be joined by French Open runners-up Andrea Vavassori and Simone Bolelli.
The Italian women’s team features French Open finalist and seventh-ranked Jasmine Paolini, 43rd-ranked Elisabetta Cocciaretto and world number 68 Lucia Bronzetti. Paolini and Sara Errani will play doubles after the duo made the women’s final at Roland Garros last week.
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