Aug 26 (Reuters) - Naomi Osaka battled back from a set and a break down to defeat Anett Kontaveit 4-6 6-2 7-5 on Wednesday and advance to the Southern & Western Open semi-finals for the first time.
Japan's Osaka trailed 2-0 in the second set, but she stepped up her serving and cut down on unforced errors to reel off six straight games.
The final set looked destined for a tiebreaker when Kontaveit rushed out to a 40-15 lead while serving at 5-6.
But the fourth-seeded Osaka fought back and completed the comeback when the Estonian sent a backhand wide on match point to end a contest lasting an hour and 52 minutes.
Osaka improved to 3-0 lifetime against the 12th-seeded Kontaveit.
Next up for the twice Grand Slam champion is a meeting with Elise Mertens, who needed just over an hour to defeat qualifier Jessica Pegula 6-1 6-3 and advance to her first Premier 5 semi-final.
The 14th-seeded Belgian frustrated Pegula throughout the match, racing around the court to extend rallies and keep pressure on the American.
Mertens, who reached the U.S. Open quarter-finals last year, sealed the win with her third ace.
Briton Johanna Konta faces Greece's Maria Sakkari and Belarusian Victoria Azarenka meets Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in the other quarter-finals later on Wednesday.
The tournament, the final tune-up before the U.S. Open, is being played at Flushing Meadows in New York instead of Cincinnati due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, editing by Ed Osmond) ((Rory.Carroll@thomsonreuters.com; 503-830-8017;)) Keywords: TENNIS CINCINNATI/
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