World number four Naomi Osaka hopes to find a remedy for her misfiring serve after a heartbreaking three-set defeat to Angelique Kerber, a result which puts her on the brink of elimination at the WTA Finals.
The US Open champion fell to number one seed Kerber 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in two hours and 30 minutes at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Wednesday.
Winless Osaka can still qualify for the semi-finals but will need to beat eighth seeded Kiki Bertens in her final round-robin match on Friday and rely on other results in Red Group to get through.
The hard-hitting Osaka struggled on serve throughout against Kerber and had a first serve percentage of 50 for the match, which plummeted to just 44 per cent in the deciding set.
The Japanese rising superstar lamented her woes on serve.
“I feel like this match was sort of a continuation of my last match in a way… that I didn’t serve well,” she told reporters.
“I feel like I’m not really sure how that’s going wrong, and I want to practice it.
“In a way I’m proud of myself for being able to make the matches so close without really having a first serve.”
After rallying back in the second set, Osaka appeared to have the momentum in the third before fading against the experienced Kerber.
“I think in the third set I started hesitating, because I felt like if I went down the line… she would get it, and then maybe she would hit a running winner,” she said.
The 21-year-old clutched at her left hamstring on several occasions but said she would continue in the tournament.
“It doesn’t feel good. It’s nothing that concerning, I think,” she said.
“It’s the last tournament of the year, so of course I’m going to play my matches.”