Tight First Set
It was a very tight start of the match, both players were not giving many chances to their opponent. Stephens was playing very aggressively, not afraid to approach the net and end the points with a volley. As for Osaka, she was also matching Stephens aggressiveness from the baseline, hitting deep balls and well-placed angles. The first set was up to grabs, but it didn’t look like any player would compromise their serve. The first break point came in the eighth game, but Osaka was able to save it. Unfortunately, for the Japanese she was not able to save the second break point and that gave a lead to Stephens and the first break of the match.
The American would hold her serve very comfortably, not dropping her level of tennis and keeping her focus. Osaka was serving to stay in the match, but the second seed started to push the Japanese and she started to make mistakes that gave Stephens a set point. It was a stressful rally for Osaka who tried everything to save her serve, but the American didn’t hesitate when she approached the net and won the set with a smash.
Stephens Can’t Close the Match, But Remains Calm
The start of the second set was an exchange of breaks. Osaka needed to break early if she wanted to put some pressure on the American, but after she broke in the first game of the match, she was not able to keep her serve in the following game. It was a good display of tennis from both players who played long rallies that often finished with a winner. Osaka started to see a possibility to win the set when she started to play more aggressive and saw Stephens struggling to return the ball, but even playing a better set of tennis, the American's defensive skills were just too good and both players held their serve for five straight games.
It was again the American who got a crucial break at a very important moment. Osaka had been pushing Stephens in the last games but eventually, it was the American who remained calm and got the break after Osaka hit a backhand into the net. Stephens had the opportunity to close the match under her serve, but quickly the nerves started to show as she made three straight unforced errors that gave her opponent three break points and a huge chance to come back into the match.
Stephens couldn’t close the match and lost her serve at love. Both players held their next serves and now it was Osaka’s moment to force the second set into a tiebreak and have a chance to send the match to a deciding set. However, a tiebreak was not in Stephens' plans and she started to play like she was at the start of the set, making fewer mistakes and placing the ball in the right places. The American required only one match point that she won after hitting a very lucky shot after a tricky second serve by the Japanese.
Stephens' Wins By Numbers
It was a very good match for the American, serve-wise, as she won twenty-four out of thirty points on her first serve. She hit four double faults —three of them on the second set— and two aces.
Next Rival: Wickmayer
On the semifinal, Stephens will play against Yanina Wickmayer who defeated today the third seed, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The American leads their head-to-head 1-0. Their last and only match was last year in Miami where Stephens won 6-1, 6-3.