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Pan Pacific Open: Wham-bam as Japan’s Naomi Osaka roars into quarters

“I didn’t really feel any pressure,” said Osaka, who reached the Tokyo final in 2016.

AFP | Tokyo |

Japan’s Naomi Osaka pulverised Slovak Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-1 to reach the Pan Pacific Open quarter-finals on Wednesday in her first match since her historic US Open triumph.

The 20-year-old, who stunned Serena Williams to become Japan’s first grand slam singles champion earlier this month, fired down 10 aces in a fearsome display of wham-bam tennis in Tokyo.

Osaka came out firing and ripped a fizzing forehand down the line on the first point, the third seed powering away to close out the first set with a pair of thundering aces.

A dazed Cibulkova had no answer to Osaka’s firepower as the world number seven wrapped up a comfortable victory with a ferocious cross-court backhand after just 59 minutes.

“I didn’t really feel any pressure,” said Osaka, who reached the Tokyo final in 2016.

“It was really difficult because she’s such a great player but I just thought it was more fun.

“My serve was really good,” added Japan’s latest sporting celebrity.

“I’m just grateful to be able to play here again.”

Earlier, sixth seed Garbine Muguruza was upset by American qualifier Alison Riske 6-1, 6-2 in an abject performance from the Spanish former world number one, who looked a shadow of the player who captured the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon titles.

Riske advances to face fourth seed Karolina Pliskova, another player to have previously held the women’s top ranking.

The Czech recovered from a set down to beat Australia’s Daria Gavrilova 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 and avenge her opponent’s defeat of twin sister Kristyna earlier this week.

But she made hard work of it, trashing a racquet in frustration as she slipped behind 4-1 in the deciding set before clawing her way back.

“The first set was in my hands but I made some stupid mistakes,” said Pliskova, who ended Gavrilova’s resistance with a clever drop volley after two hours and 21 minutes.

“I tried to stay positive and even though I broke my racquet I tried to keep fighting because you always have a chance.”

Second seed Caroline Garcia flirted with an early exit as the Frenchwoman overcame Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 to reach the last eight of the prestigious Tokyo event, whose list of former champions includes Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Kimiko Date and Martina Hingis.