Osaka (Japan) (AFP)

Former World No.1 Naomi Osaka will face No. 41 Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the Osaka WTA final after beating Belgium's Elise Mertens 6-4, 6-1 on Saturday.

For her first tournament since her elimination in the round of 16 of the US Open that deprived her of her world throne, Osaka, 4th world, stumbled on Mertens until the 10th game of the first set: the break allowed her to pull off the sleeve before unfolding and folding the match in just one hour.

Faced with Pavlyuchenkova who dismissed the German Angelique Kerber without difficulty in the semi-finals (6-3, 6-3), Osaka will try Sunday to finally register his name in the tournament's winners on his lands after two lost finals (2018 and 2016) when he was in Tokyo.

"The last two months have been pretty tough so I'm really happy to have reached the final," said the Japanese, "I know now that I'm the most comfortable on the hard side."

© 2019 AFP