Watson into Osaka semis as Robson crashes out
Heather Watson is the only Brit left to fly the flag at the HP Open after she succeeded where Laura Robson failed in reaching the semi-finals on Friday.
World No. 71 Watson faced Pauline Parmentier of France - a rival ranked two places lower than her in the WTA rankings, and the pair put on a close battle lasting nearly two hours. The outcome was positive for the British youngster, who claimed a 7-5 6-3 victory.
The obvious area concern for Watson is her serve, which is highly penetrable even when the first delivery lands. On Friday she barely got more than 50 per cent of first serves in and, as a result, was broken five times.
However, the positive side of Watson's game is her on-court intelligence and ability to find angles from the baseline. Parmentier had little answer as the 20-year-old created 18 break chances in the match, converting seven.
Watson will now face Misaki Doi for a place in the final, after the Japanese player beat Chanelle Scheepers 2-6 6-1 6-3.
Laura Robson will not feature in the other semi though, after she lost a tight battle with Kai-Chen Chang of Chinese Taipei. Robson was expected to overcome the world No. 134, but suffered a 6-4 3-6 7-6(4) reverse - much to the delight of the Osaka crowd.
The Brit was broken twice in the first set but responded impressively to take the second in a back-and-forth encounter. Neither player could find a breakthrough in the decider as it went to a tiebreaker, and the home support roared Chang home.
Chang will now meet top seed Samantha Stosur, who triumphed 6-2 6-4 against Jamie Hampton.
Meanwhile, at the Ladies Linz in Austria, world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka marched into the semi-finals with a 6-2 6-2 victory over Petra Martic. The top seed will now meet Irina Camelia-Begu for a place in the final after the Romania got the better of Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4 1-6 6-2.
On the other half of the draw, Kirsten Flipkens pulled off an upset as she ousted second seed Ana Ivanovic 6-4 6-0. The Belgian will meet Julia Goerges in the semi-finals after the German defeated Sofia Arvidsson 6-1 6-4.