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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

WTA Finals: Kiki Bertens sympathetic after tearful Naomi Osaka retires

Dutchwoman reaches semi-final of year-ending tournament in Singapore

It was a disappointing end for Naomi Osaka, who came into Singapore as the form player but lost three-set matches to Sloane Stephens and Angelique Kerber. AFP
It was a disappointing end for Naomi Osaka, who came into Singapore as the form player but lost three-set matches to Sloane Stephens and Angelique Kerber. AFP

Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka's WTA Finals debut ended in tears on Friday as she was forced to retire against Kiki Bertens, handing the Dutchwoman a surprise spot in the semi-finals.

Bertens won the first set 6-3 in 47 minutes at the Singapore Indoor Stadium before US Open champion Osaka, who wiped away tears, forfeited the match.

It was a bitterly disappointing end for the 21-year-old player, who came into Singapore as the form player but lost three-set matches to Sloane Stephens and Angelique Kerber.

But it was enough for Bertens to seal a final four spot in her debut at the season finale, having defeated top seed Kerber earlier in the round-robin phase.

Bertens only qualified for the WTA Finals just days before the tournament after world No 1 Simona Halep withdrew due to injury.

"It's never nice to win a match like this," Bertens said after the match. "I want to try to keep on going. I've had a lot of tough matches here."

Osaka had started the match brightly, rolling through her service games before being broken in the eighth game.

With her upper leg heavily strapped, Osaka called a medical timeout after the eighth game and required treatment in the locker room.

She came back on court but dropped her serve to love, culminating in a double fault which turned out to be her last action at the WTA Finals.

Kerber plays the unbeaten Stephens in the last round-robin match from Red Group, with the winner joining Bertens in the semi-finals.

Kiki Bertens only qualified for the WTA Finals just days before the tournament after world number one Simona Halep withdrew due to injury. EPA
Kiki Bertens only qualified for the WTA Finals just days before the tournament after world number one Simona Halep withdrew due to injury. EPA

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Read more:

WTA Finals: Caroline Wozniacki sent home as Elina Svitolina joins Karolina Pliskova in semis

WTA Finals: Stephens and Kerber win gruelling matches to send Red Group down to the wire

WTA Finals: Player-by-player guide to the season-ending tennis tournament in Singapore

WTA Finals: Wozniacki keeps hopes alive as Svitolina takes big step toward last-four