Kerber bossed proceedings in the opening set, breaking early to claim a 2-0 lead, and then kept her nose in front as the pair traded breaks once more, 3-1. The German continued to apply the pressure against Gibbs’ serve, and the qualifier double faulted to give up one more break and hand Kerber the set, 6-2.
But Kerber might have felt a sense of deja vu as she watched Gibbs making her comeback in the second set; all but one of her five consecutive defeats were three-setters, even holding a match point in last week’s battle against Alison Riske in Zhengzhou.
Gibbs roared ahead to a double break lead, her confidence growing as more of Kerber’s shots missed their mark. But from 1-4 down, the three-time Grand Slam winner came fighting back, reeling off five consecutive games to claim her first victory since July after an hour and 20 minute battle.
Up next in the Osaka quarterfinals, Kerber will await the winner between No.5 seed Madison Keys and Kazakh qualifier Zarina Diyas.
More to follow…