Osaka reaches Pan Pacific Open final at Giorgi's expense

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In a potentially gripping final, recent US Open champion Naomi Osaka will look to claim her second title in as many tournaments when she takes on fourth seed Karolina Pliskova.

The Czech beat Osaka when the two met three years ago in Tokyo but Japan's first ever Grand Slam victor is a very different proposition now and Friday's win was her ninth in a row.

"I knew that once I hit any short ball or any ball without that much speed, she was going to try to go for it". "She was playing really well and my serve helped me". "Naomi was maybe a little bit exhausted, you could see that, but the future is bright for her and congrats to her for an incredible few weeks".

Osaka and Pliskova have split their two previous meetings, but the former won comfortably when they met at Indian Wells in March.

But Pliskova slowly turned the screw and broke for 3-2 with a fizzing backhand which her opponent swished well wide.

The world number eight was soon a set to the good after unleashing another brutal drive. Osaka was caught flat-footed and dumped it into the net.

The Wuhan Open's co-director said Osaka is to be replaced by Polona Hercog of Slovenia, who lost in the qualifying to Puerto Rico's Monica Puig.

Wuhan Open co-director Fabrice Chouquet said he regretted the fact that Osaka was forced to withdraw after an "amazing few weeks" in which she became the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles title.

As the strain began to show, a dejected Osaka called for coach Sascha Bajin and groaned: "I feel so stressed out!" "I knew I had to play aggressive and make her move around the court, to play with all the energy I had in me and to be positive all the time - that was the goal". Moments later she ended the match with a sixth ace, which Osaka barely wafted her racket at.

In contrast, a tearful Osaka could barely bring herself to speak at the trophy presentation. "I've literally never felt more exhausted in my entire life", Osaka said.

"I think Donna was playing well and she's beaten a lot of tough players this tournament".

Elsewhere, Kiki Bertens reached the second hardcourt final of her career following a 6-4 6-2 win over Maria Sakkari at the Korea Open.

Osaka will face Italian Camila Giorgi in the semis on Saturday after Victoria Azarenka was forced to retire injured in their quarter-final contest with Giorgi leading 5-3 in the first set.