Naomi Osaka goes one step closer to $3m WTA Finals title by beating Pliskova

Naomi Osaka recorded her first match win at the WTA Tour Championships in Istanbul on Wednesday, after spending the first half of the year focused on “seeing the state of the world”.

The Japanese 20-year-old, the world No38, became the latest player to go through qualifying at the tournament and progressed in just 2 hours 23 minutes, beating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in straight sets. “I’m not really surprised about the win because I’ve been playing well but I didn’t expect I’d get this far,” Osaka said. “Since I won the first round and I beat Risa Ozaki, I actually started to see the state of the world, which was a good thing.”

She beat Ekaterina Makarova in the second round and went on to defeat Pliskova 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the biggest tournament of her career. “It’s good to finally get this win but I really didn’t expect I’d get this far,” Osaka said. “After the first round I was struggling to think how I was going to play so I just expected I’d play well and have a good tournament but I definitely wasn’t expecting to get to the semi-finals.”

Osaka is determined to keep focusing on the game rather than her world ranking. “It is nice to have a big ranking because it makes things easy but it doesn’t really change what I have to do,” she said. “The most important thing is to win. If I could add more rankings points I would but I am concentrating on what is going on in the court and I don’t really care about this much.”

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