Osaka beats Svitolina to reach Australian Open semi-finals

Naomi Osaka dominated Elina Svitolina to win in straight sets and reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

The Japanese US Open champion had too much firepower for Svitolina, triumphing 6-4 6-1 in Melbourne.

Osaka hit 31 winners and took advantage of the second serve of the Ukrainian, who received treatment on her neck and shoulder in the second set.

The fourth seed, 21, will face either Serena Williams or Karolina Pliskova in the last four on Thursday.

Svitolina, the sixth seed, is still to go beyond the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam.

“I tried to be consistent or as consistent as I can be. She’s really good but unfortunately she was injured. But playing against her injured was really tough,” said Osaka.

“For me, today, I had one goal – it was to try as hard as I can and not get angry.

“I didn’t do that well in the past two rounds, but I played well today.”

Osaka announced herself on the world stage with her hugely impressive victory over Williams in September’s US Open final, although her achievement was overshadowed by the American’s outburst at umpire Carlos Ramos.

She has the chance to become world number one after this tournament and looked a class apart against Svitolina, who was affected by the shoulder problem which needed treatment during her third-round match.

There was no sign of an issue in the first five games as both players held serve, but the final five games of the first set were all breaks with Osaka striking the decisive blow when Svitolina netted a backhand.

The second set was much more straightforward, once a lucky net cord gave Osaka the first break in the second game.

Svitolina, 24, received treatment at the changeover when 3-0 down but to no noticeable effect and Osaka feasted on her weak second serve, winning 16 of 22 points on it.

The Ukrainian managed to halt a run of six games in a row for Osaka but a smashed winner sealed victory in one hour and 12 minutes.

Svitolina, who won the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore in October, was always on the back foot against Osaka, with the Japanese’s 31 winners 20 more than her opponent managed.

Asked if her injury was a shoulder or neck problem, Svitolina said “a bit of both”.

She intends to have a scan when she returns to Europe and might have a break from the WTA Tour so the issue can be resolved.

“I couldn’t produce 100% the game I wanted but in the end she played better,” said Svitolina.

“I felt pain from the beginning of the tournament here. It was going and coming back, today it was a little bit worse than I expected.

“It is normal to have tension during a Grand Slam but unfortunately I couldn’t handle it today.

“When you move your neck, it’s moving something inside. The spine moves. And if it’s touching the nerve, sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. And there is lots of pressure.” (Courtesy BBC Sports)


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