Osaka bridges age gap to upset Venus
Teen stuns veteran
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.