Osaka bridges age gap to upset Venus

Teen stuns veteran

Sport360 - - Front Page - By Dan Gil­lott @Sport360 edi­to­rial@sport360.com

Venus Wil­liams tipped her hat to teenager Naomi Osaka after suf­fer­ing a shock exit in the sec­ond round of the WTA Hong Kong Open.

Ja­pan’s top-ranked player reeled off eight con­sec­u­tive games at one stage to power into the quar­ter­fi­nals 7-5, 6-2.

It all seemed to be going to plan for sec­ond seed Wil­liams when she broke the 19-year-old Osaka in the fifth game of the opening set.

But then the Amer­i­can’s first serve de­serted her when serv­ing for the set at 5-4.

Two dou­ble faults and a se­ries of fierce ground strokes from Osaka which un­err­ingly kissed the lines en­abled the world No64 to break twice and take the set 7-5.

“She played well,” Wil­liams said. “You know, I made a few er­rors at 5-4 and after that she played pretty flaw­less. I can only give her credit.”

Osaka, who made head­lines when she knocked An­gelique Ker­ber out of the US Open in the first round last month, con­tin­ued in the same vein at the start of the sec­ond set and raced into a 5-0 lead.

“I felt like I played of­fen­sively and hit re­ally deep hard balls but she had the luck to­day and could re­turn those balls even harder and deeper,” said Wil­liams.

The 37-year-old briefly ral­lied to 5-2, but after a pep talk from Osaka’s coach, the Ja­panese re­fo­cused and closed out the match after an hour and 24 min­utes.

“Venus is some­one I’ve re­spected and ad­mired,” said Osaka, who was not born when Wil­liams reached her first Grand Slam fi­nal at the 1997 US Open. “I’ve grown up watch­ing her. Even though she some­one I ad­mire, it’s just an­other op­po­nent at the end of the day so I tried to fo­cus hard.”

Ear­lier, the sev­enth seed Daria Gavrilova bat­tled into the quar­ter­fi­nals with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 win over Amer­i­can Shelby Rogers.

Rogers and Gavrilova re­newed their ri­valry at Vic­to­ria Park after set­ting a record for the long­est-ever women’s sin­gles match last month, with a three hours and 33 minute epic at the US Open.

“I was re­ally mo­ti­vated,” said world No22 Gavrilova after aveng­ing her Flush­ing Mead­ows de­feat.

Sam Sto­sur en­sured there would be two Aus­tralians in the last eight when she came from a set down to oust fourth seed Ag­nieszka Rad­wan­ska 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.

At the Tian­jin Open, Maria Shara­pova made an im­pres­sive start by beat­ing No9 seed Iri­naCamelia Begu 6-4, 6-2.

The opening matches of the tour­na­ment have been badly dis­rupted be­cause of rain.

“It’s been a long wait for ev­ery­one, it hasn’t been easy,” the Rus­sian said. “I had a first prac­tice out­doors and then I think it rained for 70 hours straight, un­for­tu­nately for the play­ers.”

Straight shooter: Naomi Osaka caught the eye in beat­ing Venus Wil­liams in two sets.

Wil­liams in the 1997 US Open fi­nal.

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