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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 January 2019

Naomi Osaka blames 'childish attitude' for surprise defeat at Brisbane International

Top seed loses 6-2, 6-4 to world No 27 Lesia Tsurenko in the semi-finals

After losing her Brisbane International semi-final, Naomi Osaka withdrew from next week's Sydney International. Getty Images
After losing her Brisbane International semi-final, Naomi Osaka withdrew from next week's Sydney International. Getty Images

US Open champion Naomi Osaka blamed her surprising defeat to Lesia Tsurenko in the Brisbane International semi-finals on Saturday on her "childish" attitude.

Osaka, the world No 5 from Japan and top seed in Brisbane, was soundly beaten by 27th-ranked Ukrainian Tsurenko 6-2, 6-4 in 65 minutes.

Osaka, who burst to prominence with her eventful US Open final win over Serena Williams, made 26 unforced errors and was broken three times in a flat display. She said after the match that she didn't know how to cope once things started to go against her.

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"If I'm being really frank, I just feel like I had the worst attitude today," Osaka, 21, said. "I feel like I didn't really know how to cope with not playing well.

"I was sulking a little bit, and like there are moments that I tried not to do that, but then the ball wouldn't go in, and then I would go back to being, like, childish and stuff.

"I feel like last year I did a lot of that," she added. "I'm trying to change it more, and I think I have."

Osaka said Saturday's loss was probably a better learning experience than if she had made the final.

"I think today I learned ... what I can do to improve the situation," she said.

Immediately after Osaka's defeat, it was announced that she had withdrawn from next week's Sydney International. It has yet to be revealed whether she is carrying an injury or has opted to rest ahead of the Australian Open, which begins on January 14.

The 29-year-old Tsurenko, who will now rise to a career-high world ranking of 24, said she had adopted a new game plan during the off-season.

"I feel better with my serve and that I am moving well," she said. "I feel more strong now, so I can kind of handle every kind of pressure on court, even when someone like Naomi is playing really strong. I can really stay there and I can be aggressive also."

Tsurenko will play either fifth seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova or Croatia's Donna Vekic in Sunday's final.

In the men's event, Osaka's compatriot Kei Nishikori fared much better, demolishing Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 6-2 in the semi-finals.

Nishikori, 29, gave his French opponent no chance as he put on a commanding all court display to advance to the final for the second time in three years.

After his impressive straight sets quarter-final win over Grigor Dimitrov, Nishikori said he had set his sights on returning to the world's top five after falling to No 39 last April due to a wrist injury at the end of 2017.

And he showed all the qualities of a top five player in his 66-minute demolition at the Pat Rafter Arena.

He only served two aces compared with the 11 sent down by Chardy, but Nishikori returned superbly and pressured the Frenchman's serve throughout, breaking him twice in each set.

Nishikori also moved around the court well, his speed not noticeably affected by the injuries that hampered him last year.

"Everything was working well today," Nishikori said. "I felt like I was too fast on the court today - I felt very good.

"Physically and tennis-wise I think it was perfect. I served well, I returned well - I think that was the key today - and I was moving well, that was fantastic."

Nishikori was runner-up to Dimitrov in 2017 and will go into Sunday's final against either fourth seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev or Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as firm favourite.

Updated: January 5, 2019 12:29 PM

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