Stephens victory hands winless Osaka Singapore lifeline

Stephens victory hands winless Osaka Singapore lifeline

Kerber had earlier defeated US Open champion Osaka in three sets to improve her qualification bid beyond the round-robin stage. In the final set, the German didn't squander a second chance and an error from Osaka on match point ended it.

She once again broke a flustered Kerber to take it into a third set for the first time between the pair.

A tenacious Angelique Kerber overcame a second set stutter to outlast Naomi Osaka on Wednesday, leaving the Japanese sensation's WTA Finals campaign hanging by a thread. "It's nothing that concerning, I think", she said.

"It was great to win such a great match and to be able to look forward to another one in two days from now".

But Bertens turned things around in the second, going for more of her shots and starting out the set with a 2-0 lead.

Osaka seemed to struggle at times with a left hamstring injury.

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The final round of matches on Friday will see Stephens take on top seed Kerber, needing a victory to ensure her passage through to the last four while a first win for Osaka against Bertens could see her join the American in the last four.

"I think in the third set I started hesitating, because I felt like if I went down the line. she would get it, and then maybe she would hit a running victor", she said.

Much like against Stephens, a frustrated Osaka threw her racquet in disgust midway through the first set.

If Bertens wins, Bertens qualifies as group victor, Osaka is eliminated and Kerber and Stephens play for second spot on Friday. The rest of the first set went with serve, despite Osaka having a triple break point in the final game.

It was Kerber's fourth straight victory in the match-up between the past two Grand Slam winners.

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