(Reuters) – Anastasija Sevastova defeated U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka 6-4 6-4 in the China Open semi-finals on Saturday and will take on Caroline Wozniacki in Sunday’s title clash.
Sevastova, managing a stomach muscle problem and not quite at 100 percent, controlled the contest by winning three out of eight break point opportunities to knock out the error-prone Japanese player.
The Latvian said she had sustained the problem in her win over Croatia’s Donna Vekic in the last 16.
“Playing against Donna, I had some problems with my stomach muscle and never expected to go further. The physios did a good job and somehow I’m still hanging in there, serving OK,” world number 20 Sevastova said.
“It (muscle issue) changes the serve a bit. I didn’t go too much for aces or fast serves… just tried to hit the angles and placement and that helped.”
Sevastova edged a tight first set with a solitary break as Osaka’s game showed signs of falling apart. The 20-year-old made 42 unforced errors in the contest.
Osaka also struggled with a lower back problem in the second set as Sevastova raced to a 5-2 lead before closing out the win.
In the other semi-final, Australian Open champion Wozniacki converted five out of eight break point opportunities to thump local hope Wang Qiang 6-1 6-3 and reach her first hardcourt final since Melbourne.
Sevastova, who is looking for her second title of the season, has never beaten Wozniacki in four previous meetings.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)