US Open champion Naomi Osaka made a hugely impressive return to the WTA Tour by thrashing Dominika Cibulkova in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Tokyo Open.
Osaka, the winner at Flushing Meadows earlier this month in a match overshadowed by Serena Williams’ clash with umpire Carlos Ramos, was born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother before moving to the United States at the age of three.
As Japan’s first grand slam champion, Osaka’s return to the land of her birth has created huge excitement in the Far East and she lived up to the hype with a stunning display which proved too much for an error-strewn Cibulkova.
Two breaks in the first set and three in the second saw the 20-year-old run out a 6-2 6-1 winner in just 59 minutes.
Third seed Osaka then proceeded to charm the delighted audience further by answering in broken Japanese in her on-court interview.
Next up for Osaka is a last-eight meeting with either Anett Kontaveit or Barbora Strycova.
Karolina Pliskova exacted some family revenge on Daria Gavrilova by beating the Australian 4-6 6-4 6-4.
Gavrilova beat Kristyna Pliskova on Monday but was unable to oust her sister too, the former world number one easing through to a quarter-final meeting with American qualifier Alison Riske.
“I think it was very tough,” Pliskova said. “The first set was in my hands, and I made some stupid mistakes, so it didn’t have to go to a third one, but I’m glad I fought back after I was losing in the final set.
“I could have played better, but for a first match, it was enough to stick around in Tokyo.”
Riske will provide a stern test after hammering two-time grand slam winner Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-2.
Second seed Caroline Garcia was also pushed hard but did prevail, staving off three match points to edge past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 2-6 7-5.
It was the Frenchwoman’s 20th win in her last 25 matches in Asia.