CHARLESTON, SC, USA - No.5 seed Julia Goerges has powered her way into her second Volvo Car Open quarterfinal, reeling No.10 seed Naomi Osaka in 7-6(4), 6-3 after twice coming from a break down in the first set.

The 29-year-old was coming off a second-round loss in Miami to Carina Witthoeft and had struggled through her opener here, barely squeezing past Kristie Ahn 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(1) - but afterwards, she said that these experiences have helped her more than straightforward wins might have done. "I think sometimes you learn more out of losses than on wins," she stated. "Especially if I compare it to yesterday's match where I was almost out of the tournament and I still found a way, I think those
matches help you more than you win 6-2, 6-2 and just go off the court.

"So I think losses can be very helpful, too. They can be painful, but they help you
probably more than easy wins or if it looks easy or if you just win a title."

The last time the German, who broke the Top 10 for the first time in February, had made the last eight in Charleston was in 2011, when she defeated Shahar Peer before losing to eventual runner-up Elena Vesnina. Today's result means that Osaka has to wait to make her own Tour-level clay quarterfinal debut.

The freshly crowned Indian Wells champion started confidently, hitting her spots with her serve and coming through two multi-deuce games to carve out a 3-0 lead. Targeting the Goerges backhand relentlessly, the 20-year-old judiciously deployed a wrongfooting strategy to close out points, and sealed the first break of the match on her third break point with a scorching drive volley. When the German limped to her chair clutching her leg in the fifth game, there was little doubt as to which player was in control.

But the dynamic of the match gradually changed as Goerges began to find her rhythm on serve. A straightforward hold for 2-4 was followed by some of the 29-year-old's best tennis to break back on her fourth break point, blending powerful returns with clever, delicate slices. 

"I needed a little bit of time to get my feet on the ground and especially to get used to the pace as well, and today it was a bit cooler," explained Goerges afterwards. "I was just very happy that I created some opportunities in her service game to really... get my feet going, but also changing up the game a little bit with a lot of variety."

Though Osaka would regain her advantage, hammering a sequence of huge forehands to progress to the brink of the set at 5-3, her game had begun to leak far more errors than initially. A shanked smash gave Goerges an opportunity to stay in the set - and the Auckland champion seized it with a forehand down the line.

The Japanese player had come into this match with a perfect, three-for-three tiebreak record in 2018 - but in the ensuing first-set decider, her errors continued to pile up, particularly on the backhand side. Goerges, meanwhile, was beginning to peak on serve. Having held for 6-6 with an impeccable game of one ace and three service winners, she would ultimately seal the set with her fourth ace of the day.

The World No.13's form continued into the second set as she made a lightning start, capturing the first eight points to capture an immediate break lead. But leading 2-0, it was her turn to be beset by wild errors, with her favoured forehand wing veering off the rails to allow Osaka back into the match. Demonstrating the increased variety in her game that had been key to capturing the BNP Paribas Open title, Osaka took her chance with a delightful, feathery dropshot.

"I was thinking that I shouldn't give up and that no matter what, I should try to at least make it competitive," explained Osaka afterwards. Overall, though, the 20-year-old was unhappy with her form in Charleston.

"I was able to win two matches - but I feel like that doesn't really say I can play well on clay," she told the press. "It's more, I think, I'm just an okay player that was able to play okay."

But Goerges quickly resumed her dominance on serve. Over the course of the match, she would win 71% of her first serve points and send down eight aces - one of which got her out of trouble down break point in the seventh game. Osaka's form, meanwhile, was increasingly intermittent. Having struck 16 winners of the first set, she would manage only four in the second - while her unforced error tally would rise to 34.

Goerges pounced again in the eighth game - not with power but with touch, as consecutive dropshots brought up two break points. A backhand pass sealed the break, and the Zhuhai Elite Trophy champion would serve the match out comfortably to set up a quarterfinal against No.3 seed Daria Kasatkina - whom she lavished with praise afterwards.

"I think when we met each other first she was 17 or 18," recalled Goerges. "We played each other in Bucharest and then Bad Gastein [in 2015], and when I
played her there after the match, I was pretty sure she's going to be Top 20 for sure. That's what I told her at the net."

Goerges' appreciation of her next opponent is not just as a player but as a person. "I just like the way she's presenting herself, the way she is as a human being," she elaborated. "We know that this tennis life probably also has some tough parts. And it's not a goal to like everyone, but I think it's nice if you can deal with everyone.

"I think she's one of the best friends I would call on tour for me because she's a very open-minded girl. She's very happy the way things are going for her - but not [just] on the tennis side as well, the way she lives her life."