Ja­panese teen Osaka sinks Ker­ber

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

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


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