US Open champion Naomi Osaka overcame her emotions to bounce back and defeat unseeded Zhang Shuai 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a roller-coaster China Open quarter-final on Friday.
The 20-year-old Japanese was broken on her first two service games and had tears in her eyes as the match threatened to slip away in the second set.
She however pulled herself and found the resolve to pull through over three nail-biting sets and book a semifinal date against either of the unseeded duo of Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova or Slovak Dominika Cibulkova.
The 45th-ranked Zhang — with the Beijing crowd on her side — raced into an early lead against an unusually erratic Osaka, who had won 24 of her previous 28 games.
The eighth seed, who captured the imagination of the world by stunning Serena Williams to win her maiden Grand Slam last month in New York, belatedly began finding some range.
But she continued to rack up errors and conceded the first set when she hit into the net. She was to make 66 unforced errors in all.
The 29-year-old Zhang, who has won two career WTA singles titles, saved six break points to take the lead in the second set.
The upset looked inevitable when Zhang broke to go 2-0 up, but Osaka defied her emotions to avoid the upset, although she barely raised a smile even in victory.