Pan Pacific Open 2019: Top seed Naomi Osaka beats Elise Mertens in straight sets to advance to finals
Osaka will now face the unseeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final on Sunday
Top seed Osaka dispatched No 9 seed Mertens 6-4, 6-1 in Osaka, western Japan, to reach her first final since winning the Australian Open
Osaka, 21, rounded into form in the second, and after the pair traded early breaks, won the last four games of the match
Her challenger in the final will be Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, 28, who ousted former World No 1 Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-3, 6-3
Tokyo: Japanese tennis sensation Naomi Osaka beat Elise Mertens of Belgium on Saturday to reach the final of the Pan Pacific Open, thrilling her Japanese fans in the city of her birth.
Top seed Osaka dispatched No 9 seed Mertens 6-4, 6-1 in Osaka, western Japan, to reach her first final since winning the Australian Open.
The pair both held their serves for the first set until Osaka broke Mertens in the 10th game.
Osaka, 21, rounded into form in the second, and after the pair traded early breaks, won the last four games of the match to sprint to victory in just over an hour.
"It's been kind of rough like the past couple of months so I'm really glad that I made it to the final," she said.
She tried to stay calm because the 23-year-old Belgian player is "an amazing player and it's so hard to hit her balls," she said.
Earlier in the day, Osaka saw off Yulia Putintseva in straight sets, even as she was tricked at times by the Kazakh player's slices and drop shots.
"For me, I learned a lot from when I played her at Wimbledon, and I know that a hard court is where I feel most comfortable," Osaka had told the press after beating Putintseva.
Last week, Osaka had announced that she was splitting with her coach, her second such split this year as she battles to regain form after slipping from the top of the world rankings to number four.
Osaka had already caught the tennis world by surprise when she announced she was parting ways with coach Sascha Bajin, who had overseen her stunning rise to win two Grand Slams — the US Open in 2018 and the Australian Open title in January.
Her challenger in the final will be Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, 28, who ousted former World No 1 Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-3, 6-3.
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The bid is set to be fronted by three former players in Germany's Silvia Neid, Femke Maes from Belgium and ex-Dutch midfielder Sarina Wiegman.
Goerges reached her highest ranking of ninth in the world in 2018 and was ranked 45th at her retirement. Her most recent match was a second-round loss to fellow German Laura Siegemund at the French Open.
Tiley said he remains "absolutely" confident the Australian Open will go ahead as planned at Melbourne Park from 18-31 January, along with lead-up events including the men's ATP Cup and tournaments in Brisbane, Sydney and Hobart.