TOKYO-Japan's Naomi Osaka produced another explosive performance to beat Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich and reach the Pan Pacific Open semi-finals on Friday.

Osaka, born of a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, will face Ukraine's Elina Svitolina in the last four after her shock three-set victory over top seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain.

The 18-year-old Osaka, who models her power game on her idol Serena Williams, reached the last four of a WTA tournament for the first time after a 6-3, 7-6 victory in Tokyo, finishing in style by smashing an ace down the centre line.

Osaka erased a 5-0 deficit in the second set to force a tiebreak she won 8-6 to advance, but Svitlona will be a threat after bundling out French Open champion Muguruza 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. On the other side of the draw, second seed Agnieszka Radwanska booked her place in the semi-finals as the Pole overpowered Puerto Rico's Rio Olympic gold medallist Monica Puig 6-2, 6-3. She next plays former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, winner in Tokyo six years ago, after the Dane beat Poland's Magda Linette 6-4, 6-3.

Jankovic one win away from Guangzhou title defence: Defending champion Jelena Jankovic of Serbia beat Croatian teen sensation Ana Konjuh in the semifinals of the WTA Guangzhou International Women's Open Thursday.

Second seed Jankovic, who is yet to drop a set in China, is now just one win away from defending her title and claiming the $226,750 top prize. She followed up her straight-sets victory over Sabine Lisicki Thursday with a hard-fought triumph over US open quarterfinalist Konjuh.

Former world number one Jankovic beat Konjuh, 7-5, 7-6(7) to advance to the final, pulling off a brilliant comeback to avoid a decider, reeling in Konjuh's 4-1 lead to force a tie-break, then thwarting two break points before completing the win. She will face Lesia Tsurenko after the Ukrainian player surged past Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-4, 6-2.

Niculescu, Tig reach Korea Open semifinal: Fifth seed Monica Niculescu on Friday advanced to the Korea Open semifinal along with compatriot Patricia Maria Tig, raising a prospect of all-Romanian final. The 28-year-old Niculescu, currently the world number 55, defeated Jana Cepelova from Slovakia 6-4, 6-2 in 81 minutes.

Cepelova, currently the world number 102, had reached the quarterfinal by scoring a surprise victory over the defending champion Irina-Camelia Begu. Tig, ranked the world 135, beat Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-3 in 154-minute showdown.

Niculescu will next play third seed Zhang Shuai who on Friday beat Italy's Camila Giorgi, and Tig will match against Lara Arruabarrena of Spain.

Youzhny dumps Raonic out of St Petersburg Open: Canadian Milos Raonic's reign as St Petersburg Open champion is over after he suffered a second-round defeat to Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny on Thursday. Wimbledon finalist Raonic, sixth in the ATP rankings, fired 13 aces but to no avail as 2004 champion here Youzhny battled back from a set down to win 2-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4. Big serving second seed Raonic, who enjoyed an opening round bye, broke twice in the opening set to take it in 32 minutes but Youzhny won the tiebreak in the second to level at 1-1.

In the deciding set Youzhny, 34, broke in the ninth game to close out his win in two hours 34 minutes. "It's fantastic!" Youzhny said.  "I'd like to thank St Petersburg fans for their support, which inspired me in the second set when I was trailing 5-1 in the tiebreak. Tomorrow (Friday) I await another very hard match. Hopefully I'll manage to recover."

Youzhny will take on Germany's Alexander Zverev, fifth seed here, who beat Daniil Medvedev of Russia 6-3, 7-5, for a place in the semi-finals. Third seed Czech Thomas Berdych, who returned to action after his withdrawal from the US Open due to appendicitis, scraped into the quarter-finals through a tough three-setter against Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7/4).

Berdych, currently ninth in the race to the London ATP Finals -- which features the year's top eight players -- won the first set with a break in the fourth game but Kuznetsov broke twice in the second to level.

In the third set tiebreak, Berdych was more precise and secured a last-eight spot. "The result is definitely an improvement from the last year," said Berdych, who lost in the 2015 opening round. "Today I faced a very tough opponent and I'm very happy to go through this test."

On Friday, Berdych will face Italian veteran Paolo Lorenzi, 34, who saw off French qualifier Alexandre Sidorenko 7-6 (7/5), 6-4. Serb Viktor Troicki, seeded seventh, cruised into the last eight with a 6-4, 6-4 win over a compatriot Dusan Lajovic, while eighth seed Joao Sousa of Portugal beat Russian wildcard Andrey Rublev 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-3.

 

TOKYO: China's Sun Yu smashes a shot against Japan's Sayaka Sato during their women's singles quarterfinal at the Japan Open Badminton Tournament.–AFP