Japanese teen Osaka sinks Kerber
JAPANESE teenager Naomi Osaka sent defending champion Angelique Kerber crashing out of the US Open yesterday as torrential rain swept New York, causing more than 50 first round matches to be shelved.
As players ran for cover off the outside courts where just 90 minutes of action was possible, Osaka’s big-hitting game and love of the big occasion thrived under the roof of the Arthur Ashe Stadium court.
The world No. 46, born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother, won 6-3, 6-1 as sixth seed Kerber became the first US Open women’s defending champion to lose in the first round since Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2005.
Osaka, who surrendered a 5-1 final set lead on the same court in losing to Madison Keys in the third round 12 months ago, fired 22 winners as Kerber went tumbling out of the world’s top 10 as well as the tournament.
“At 4-1, I was hoping I don’t do what I did last year,” said the 19year-old Osaka, who admitted suffering a brief flashback to her tearful loss to Keys.
“So that helped me focus and concentrate, which I needed as Angelique gets everything back.”
Osaka will face either Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson or Denisa Aller- tova of the Czech Republic for a place in the last 32.
“I just want to play good. I did that today and so I want to carry that into the next match,” added the Japanese teenager, who secured her first career win over a top-10 player.
Kerber is the third top seed to go out in the first round after No. 2 Simona Halep and seventh-seeded Johanna Konta lost on Monday.
“She just went for it,” said 29year-old Kerber. “She took her chances. For sure, it was not the best day and not the best match for me.”
With no sign of the torrential rain abating, US Open chiefs decided to cancel 44 singles matches and postpone the completion of 11 others until today.
World No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, bidding to back up her lofty status with a maiden first Grand Slam title, was able to make a winning start, courtesy of playing under the roof on Ashe.
Czech 25-year-old Pliskova, the runner-up in 2016, eased past Poland’s Magda Linette 6-2, 6-1 on the back of eight aces and 29 winners.
“I felt a little bit nervous walking on this court, especially after last year and the memories I have here,” said Pliskova. – AFP