Osaka Enters Top 5, Bertens in Top 10

Published 10/08/2018, 11:14 AM EDT
Osaka in China


Naomi Osaka has recently hit a new milestone this week – for both herself and her country.

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The 20-year-old‘s semifinal showing in Beijing last week, her third consecutive appearance in the last four of a tournament, has propelled her to a Top 5 debut – just a month after her maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open had seen her crack the Top 10 for the first time.

Osaka’s new career high of World No.4 also means that she becomes the second Japanese woman ever to reach the Top 5 – and in so doing, she equals the best ever ranking set by a Japanese player. Kimiko Date first hit that spot in November 1995 after a year in which she had won the Toray Pan Pacific Open and reached the Miami final, Roland Garros semifinals and Wimbledon quarterfinals, and she would spend 11 weeks in total inside the Top 5.

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A jubilant Naomi Osaka celebrates her maiden Grand Slam win

Osaka revealed last week that she had talked to Date about the latter’s career high at Roland Garros this year – but had not envisaged equalling it herself so soon. Nonetheless, the US Open and Indian Wells champion has no intention of resting on her laurels, telling reporters in Beijing that she still feels as though she has more to prove. Having withdrawn from this week’s Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open with a back injury, Osaka will next get the chance to do that – and potentially to exceed Date’s career high – in her debut appearance at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

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Last year, a lean Asian swing for Osaka saw the Japanese No.1 win just two of her last seven matches of 2017, seeing her ranking slip over the course of the season from No.40 to a year-end position of No.68. This year has seen her rebound magnificently. A third-round showing at the Australian Open and a quarterfinal in Dubai boosted her back into the Top 50; a maiden title in Indian Wells rocketed her to the edge of the Top 20; her spectacular title run at the US Open would see her gatecrash the Top 10; and now, having backed it up with a final in Tokyo and semifinal in Beijing, the 20-year-old has officially become the joint highest ranked player in Japanese history.

Kiki Bertens

Another national milestone in this week’s Top 10 comes courtesy of the Cincinnati and Seoul champion, whose third-round showing in Beijing was sufficient to see her break this tier for the first time. Bertens is the first Dutchwoman to be ranked in the Top 10 since Brenda Schultz-McCarthy in November 1996, and just the third overall after Schultz-McCarthy, who reached a career high of World No.9 in May 1996, and Betty Stove, the 1977 Wimbledon runner-up who hit World No.5 in July that year.

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Dhruv George

11311 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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