At 20, Naomi Osaka has an old-timer’s attitude
Naomi Osaka loves video games, binge-watching shows on Netflix and peppering her conversations with the word “like.” She’s 20, but don’t call her young. “I feel old,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been on the tour forever. So, I mean, I feel like I know a lot of stuff. Yeah, I don’t feel like I’m new to this.”
She has the calm of a veteran. Osaka reached the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 victory over Maria Sakkari of Greece on Tuesday, another solid performance in a string that began with victories over Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Sachia Vickery. Osaka’s quarterfinal opponent will be No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova, who ended the impressive run of 16-year-old American Amanda Anisimova with a 6-1, 7-6 (2) triumph.
“I’m not scared from those young girls because I know my game. I know I can be solid,” Pliskova said. “So there is nothing what can surprise me. I was ready.”
Osaka isn’t a typical young girl. “I try to think about it: What are my skills? And what is the other person’s skills?” she said. “I really don’t think age matters right now because there is a lot of good, top players that are, like, some people would say they are old, but I don’t think it’s like that.”
Anisimova didn’t drop a set against Pauline Parmentier, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and No. 9 seed Petra Kvitova but was rattled by Pliskova’s fast, forceful pace. “I’ve had a great tournament, so there’s nothing to be upset about,” she said.
Kasatkina will face No. 10 Angelique Kerber, who overwhelmed No. 7 Caroline Garcia 6-1, 6-1 in Tuesday’s final match. “She outsmarted me today, which is fair enough. But at least I tried, and I tried to do what I thought I needed to do out there today. I just couldn’t execute as well as I wanted to,” Wozniacki said of Kasatkina.
Venus Williams, the oldest player in the draw at 37, came back in both sets to defeat Anastasija Sevastova, 7-6 (6), 6-4. It’s remarkable, considering she had a quick turnaround after defeating her sister Serena in a third-round match Monday and couldn’t ease up against the intense Sevastova. “There was no conserving energy. I had to let it all go and try to win the point because she wasn’t conserving anything, I don’t think, either,” Williams said. Her quarterfinal opponent will be Carla Suarez Navarro, a 6-2, 6-4 winner over former NCAA champion Danielle Collins.
Jack Sock, the highest-seeded American man here at No. 8, exited at the hands of No. 28 Feliciano Lopez of Spain, who prevailed 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-4. Lopez will face American Sam Querrey, the No. 18 seed, who advanced with a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Yuki Bhambri of India.
No. 31 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany defeated No. 2 Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-4, 6-4. Kohlschreiber will face Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who advanced when Gael Monfils retired from their third-round match because of a back injury with Herbert leading 6-2, 3-1…. Taro Daniel of Japan, who stunned Novak Djokovic on Sunday, came back to earth on Tuesday when Leonardo Mayer of Argentina dismissed him, 6-4, 6-1. Mayer’s next opponent will be No. 6 seed Juan Martin del Potro, who outhit David Ferrer of Spain 6-4, 7-6 (3). Del Potro and Mayer grew up together and frequently practice together. “It will be a special match for both,” Del Potro said. “And I know if he has a good day he’s very dangerous guy and he plays solid from the baseline.”
In another round-of-16 matchup, Milos Raonic of Canada will face Marcos Baghdatis of Cypress. Raonic defeated Joao Sousa in three sets, and Baghdatis eliminated Dudi Sela of Israel in straight sets.
Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen
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