Angelique Kerber outlasts Naomi Osaka at WTA Finals

WTA Finals Sloane Stephens Defeats Naomi Osaka in Red Group Kiki Bertens Beats Angelique Kerber in Gruelling Clash

WTA Finals Sloane Stephens Defeats Naomi Osaka in Red Group Kiki Bertens Beats Angelique Kerber in Gruelling Clash

Bertens, who was a doubles finalist past year in Singapore, snapped a run of service breaks with a vital hold from 0-40 in the eighth game of the final set before a forehand victor earned the world No 9 a tour-leading 11th victory over a top 10 player this season.

Two more unforced errors into the net by Osaka gave Stephens a triple break point in the next game and caused Osaka to swing her racket violently toward the court in frustration.

"I had my chances in the second set but she played some unbelievable tennis to win that one, and it felt like there was only one or two points in the decider", Wimbledon champion Kerber said in a post-match interview.

When she failed to capitalize on four break points in the fourth game of the second set, she made a visible shrugging gesture with both hands.

Earlier, Stephens and Osaka traded early breaks before the contest settled down as they had more success on serve until the American, playing patiently from the baseline, broke again in the seventh game when the Japanese made several unforced errors.

Angelique Kerber produced a dogged display of defensive tennis to tame big-hitting Naomi Osaka 6-4 5-7 6-4 in a classic Red Group encounter between the winners of the last two Grand Slams at the WTA Finals on Wednesday.

While Osaka somewhat self-destructed, full credit must go to Stephens, who kept her focus to seal an impressive victory against one of the form players of the WTA Tour. "I think she played really well, and I think she deserved to win the match", she added.

However, crucially the American held after breaking for a third time, allowing her to take the opener after 51 minutes.

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World number six Stephens has moved into pole position after her second straight victory.

Osaka changed her tactics at the start of the second set, finding success by drawing Stephens into the court and away from her baseline comfort zone to hold far more comfortably, but the American used her potent forehand to stay in touch.

Bertens was the last player to make it into the eight-woman tournament when world number one Simona Halep withdrew through injury.

However, Osaka fought back to earn two break points and levelled the match at 5-5 with a brilliant forehand victor.

"It doesn't feel good.it's nothing that concerning, I think", she said.

"Well, before the match the plan was to try to play aggressive where I can but not rush too much".

"There are a lot of moments, you have to be able to get through it, taking on the challenge". "In the third set I had so many chances and I couldn't take it". "Naomi, she's a great player and playing with a lot of confidence right now".

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