Andreescu through to semifinals at Libema Open with win over Osaka

'S-HERTOGENBOSCH — Canada's Bianca Andreescu continued her comeback from injury with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) win over former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka of Japan in quarterfinal action Friday at the Libema Open.

Andreescu held on for the win after missing her first chance to close out Osaka when serving for the match up 5-3 in the third set.

An Osaka break and hold tied the set at 5-5, then both players exchanged holds to set up the deciding tiebreaker.

Andreescu will face Hungarian qualifier Dalma Galfi in the semifinals.

"These are the reasons we play this sport," Andreescu said. "Winning against players like this, at least for me, it really shows me where my level is at.

"I don't want to get too ahead of myself because every day is different. I just want to take it in and use it to my advantage."

The 23-year-old Andreescu from Mississauga, Ont., is playing in her second tournament since missing nearly 10 months with a back injury.

The matchup featured two players looking to rejoin the WTA's elite. Osaka reached No. 1 in January 2019, while Andreescu's breakout season in 2019 included wins at the U.S. Open, Indian Wells, and the Canadian Open, propelling her to No. 4.

It was also the same year the two had their only other match, with Osaka coming back from a set down to win in the quarterfinals of the China Open.

Andreescu entered the Libema Open ranked No. 228. Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion who took a set 6-1 off eventual winner Iga Swiatek at the French Open, is at No. 125 after taking 2023 off to give birth to her daughter and to focus on her mental health.

Andreescu won 94 per cent of her first serve points and saved the only break point she faced in the first set.

Osaka came roaring back in the second set, taking a 5-0 lead. Andreescu scored a break between two holds to cut into the lead, but it wasn't enough.

"That's expected from Naomi," Andreescu said. "Sometimes she'll play unbelievable games and then sometimes not so well. So the key for me was to stay as consistent as possible. My return today, the goal was to just bunt it back and then take control of the second serve."

Osaka had a chance to go up 4-2 in the tiebreaker but mis-hit a backhand into the net. She then hit four consecutive errors to end the match.

Osaka struck 33 winners, including seven aces, to 18 for Andreescu. But the Canadian committed just 16 unforced errors, 20 fewer than Osaka.

"I never give up," Andreescu said. "I ran a lot today. More than her for sure. I really wanted it. I really wanted it today and I think that made the big difference."

In men's quarterfinal action, top seed Alex De Minaur of Australia defeated Canadian veteran Milos Raonic 7-5, 6-2.

Raonic, the hard-serving 33-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., had 17 winners, including eight aces, to de Minaur's seven. But Raonic committed 18 unforced errors, compared to five for his opponent.

De Minaur broke to go up 6-5 in the first set. He then came back from a triple-break point in the next game by scoring five straight points to claim the set.

Down 2-1 in the second set, De Minaur won the next five games with breaks in the fifth and seventh games.

De Minaur improved his record to 3-0 against Raonic when the Canadian couldn't cleanly return his serve on match point.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 14, 2024.

The Canadian Press