Osaka credits coach, belief at Brisbane

Naomi Osaka beat Anastasija Sevatova in three sets, progressing to the Brisbane semi-finals.
Naomi Osaka beat Anastasija Sevatova in three sets, progressing to the Brisbane semi-finals.

Some timely coach's advice may have sparked US Open champion Naomi Osaka into action at the Brisbane International.

But the second seed credited a new-found self belief for pulling off a comeback quarter-final win Osaka admits she wouldn't have been able to achieve just six months ago.

World No.5 Osaka of Japan became the first woman into the Brisbane semi-finals when she overcame eighth-seeded Latvian Anastasija Sevastova 3-6 6-0 6-4.

World No.11 Sevastova won both her clashes with Osaka in 2018.

And the 28-year-old looked like making it three straight when she jumped to a 2-0 lead before claiming the first set in 33 minutes.

Enter Osaka's coach Sascha Bajin.

Called over by a concerned Osaka ahead of the second set, Bajin's calming influence first settled her down - then clearly fired her up.

The 21-year-old came out swinging, claiming the second set in just 20 minutes before overcoming late resistance from the US Open semi-finalist.

"He (Bajin) basically said not to be so worried. It was just acknowledging that she was playing really good, and there was nothing that I could really do about that," Osaka said.

"And that I had to wait for my chance, and I think that's what I did really well in the second set."

That's an understatement.

Osaka conceded just five points in the second set as she powered her way to a turnaround win that would have no doubt made rivals sit up and take notice ahead of the Australian Open.

Japan's first grand slam winner had enjoyed a stellar 2018, rising from world No.68 to earn a season-ending top five ranking.

She has also earned plenty of self belief ahead of a semi-final clash with Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko, who edged out Estonia's Anett Kontaveit 7-5 6-3 in Thursday's final match on Pat Rafter Arena.

"Maybe six months ago I wouldn't have been able to do that (come back)," Osaka said.

"I feel like right now I'm really confident in myself I'm not that scared or threatened.

"I'm not sure if I would have had the same feeling six months ago - but six months ago I hadn't won the US Open.

"But now I sort of know what could potentially come next."

Many would be predicting a second grand slam may be next after the stunning turnaround that ensured Osaka has made at least the semi-finals in four of her last five tournaments.

Osaka wasn't so sure when asked about Melbourne favouritism.

"You guys (media) might pick me as a (Australian Open) favourite but I don't know, there's so many other players," she smiled.

Australian Associated Press