Monday 23 September 2019

Relief for Osaka after struggling through opener

The 21-year-old is back at world No 1 despite poor showings at the last two Grand Slams. AP Photo/Michael Owens
The 21-year-old is back at world No 1 despite poor showings at the last two Grand Slams. AP Photo/Michael Owens

Nigel Whittaker

Defending champion Naomi Osaka had to dig deep to reach the second round of the US Open.

The top seed needed three sets to overcome gutsy Russian Anna Blinkova 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2.

Osaka was back on Arthur Ashe court for the first time since 'that' final, her victory 12 months ago which was completely overshadowed by Serena Williams' meltdown.

The 21-year-old is back at world No 1 despite poor showings at the last two Grand Slams, including a first-round exit at Wimbledon but she advanced in New York in two-and-a-half hours.

"I don't think I've ever been this nervous in my life," Osaka said. "You want to do well after winning last year. I love playing here, that's why I played for nearly three hours! I definitely didn't want to lose in the first round."

Casualty Former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza was a first-round casualty as she went out in three sets to American Alison Riske 2-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Sixth seed Petra Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon winner, eased through with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over fellow Czech Denisa Allertova.

In the men's draw, Stefanos Tsitsipas tumbled out of the US Open against Russian Andrey Rublev.

Tsitsipas, seeded eight at Flushing Meadows, has now endured consecutive first-round exits at Grand Slams following his early departure from Wimbledon.

Rublev won a classic on Louis Armstrong 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (9), 7-5.

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