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Tennis: Tsurenko upsets second-seeded Osaka to reach Brisbane final

Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts after missing a shot during her semi-final match against Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine at the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane, Australia, on Jan. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) -- The on-court coaching didn't work this time for U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka, who missed a chance to reach the Brisbane International final and move up to the No. 3 ranking with a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Leisa Tsurenko.

Osaka turned her quarterfinal around on some coach's advice after losing the first set, but she wasn't able to replicate the pattern against the No. 27-ranked Tsurenko, who dominated the first set with two service breaks.

Osaka went down an early break in the second set but had chances to get even in the sixth game, when she had two break points but committed a string of unforced errors and Tsurenko hold on for 4-2.

Osaka kicked the air at one point and dropped her racket to the court after missing another, before visibly questioning how she could be getting it so wrong when her forehand skewed wide on game point.

Tsurenko had lost both previous encounters to Osaka, including their quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open, and had some nervous moments before clinching this one.

From 15-40 down in the ninth, Osaka saved two match points with aces, got the advantage with an audacious drop shot and then held with an ace to ensure Tsurenko had to serve out.

Osaka got another visit at the changeover from her coach Sascha Bajin, which is allowed on the WTA Tour but not in Grand Slam events, just for some last-minute strategy.

But Tsurenko didn't wilt, earning another two match points with a volley winner and clinching it with the second of those.

She'll play either Donna Vekic or fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova in Sunday's final.

Kei Nishikori was playing Jeremy Chardy in the first of the men's semifinals, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had a night match against fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev.

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