Brisk Aleksandra Krunic cuts Alison Riske

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Croatian qualifier Fett fells top seed Mladenovic.

Tokyo: Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic powered on at the Japan Women’s Open on Wednesday by eliminating seventh seed Alison Riske, a day after ushering local favourite Kimiko Date into retirement.

It was a day of upsets at the Tokyo hardcourt tournament, with top seed Kristina Mladenovic the biggest scalp as the Frenchwoman was bundled out 6-4, 6-3 by Croatian qualifier Jana Fett in the first round.

World number 67 Krunic, who whitewashed the 46-year-old Date on Tuesday, stormed to a 6-3, 6-4 win over American Riske in sweltering conditions to reach the quarterfinals. Third seed Elise Mertens also booked her place in the last eight, the Belgian overpowering Poland’s Magda Linette 6-1, 7-5.

But there was another surprise later on Wednesday when Japan’s Miyu Kato toppled fourth seed Kristyna Pliskova — twin sister of world number one Karolina — 7-5, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Krunic.

In first-round matches, Kurumi Nara upset sixth seed Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-0 as the next generation of Japanese tennis players took centre stage after Date’s tearful exit.

Osaka, who reached the third round of the US Open earlier this month after stunning defending champion Angelique Kerber, left her game in the locker room as she came out inexplicably flat.

“I felt really nervous,” shrugged Osaka. “I didn’t cope with the pressure and I just think emotionally I wasn’t really there.” Australia’s former US Open winner Samantha Stosur was bundled out by Spain’s Sara Sorribes, who came from a set down to beat the fifth seed 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Second seed Zhang Shuai safely progressed to the last 16 by thrashing Dutchwoman Richel Hogenkamp 6-3, 6-3 as Tokyo organisers looked to clear a backlog of matches caused by rain on Tuesday.

Serbia face French Test 

With Novak Djokovic out of the Davis Cup semi-finals, even a French line-up struggling for form is heavily favoured to reach the team event final for the 18th time.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Lucas Pouille lead France in singles play this weekend on clay against Serbia at Stade Pierre Mauroy, the venue where France lost to Switzerland the last time it made it to the final three years ago. In the other semi-final series in Brussels, Belgium will host 28-time champion Australia on indoor clay.    



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