Third seed Naomi Osaka survived another testing three-setter to beat Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 6-3 3-6 6-3 to advance to the semi-finals of the Brisbane International on Friday.
It was Osaka’s third consecutive three-setter in the tournament and the former world number one eventually prevailed in two hours to reach the semi-finals for the second year in a row at the Pat Rafter Arena.
As a result, the 22-year-old will leapfrog Simona Halep to rise to third in the singles rankings as the Japanese prepares to defend her Australian Open crown later this month.
“I tried to defend in my U.S. Open title and that didn’t work out so well, so I hope it’s better for me this time around,” Osaka said in a post-match interview after her 14th consecutive win since her last-16 exit at Flushing Meadows.
After both players won a set each, the opening game of the third set — which lasted 11 minutes — proved to be the turning point when Osaka saved three break points to take the lead.
She then broke again at 3-2 to take control of the match, bringing up three match points with only her fourth ace of the contest before an unforced error from Bertens gave her the win to set up a semi-final with Alison Riske or Karolina Pliskova.
In the other quarter-final matches, fifth seed Petra Kvitova beat giant killer Jennifer Brady 6-4 6-2 while American Madison Keys beat compatriot Danielle Collins 6-4 6-1 in just 66 minutes.