Nervous Naomi Osaka survives early scare
Naomi Osaka was given a testing workout by Anna Blinkova as she began her US Open title defence, but the world No. 1's power and shot-making ultimately proved too much as she won 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2 yesterday morning (Singapore time).
The unseeded Blinkova raced into a 4-1 lead in the first set, but Osaka reduced her errors to win five straight games and take the opener.
Blinkova refused to back down, however, saving a match-point on Osaka's serve in the second before breaking her to set up a tie-break, which the Russian won when Osaka sent a return into the net.
The 21-year-old Japanese responded by looking to her box and mimicked putting a gun to her head and pulling the trigger, but stayed composed to win the third set 6-2.
"I don't think I've ever been this nervous in my life," said Osaka, who will meet Poland's Magda Linette next.
Cori "Coco" Gauff, 15, lived up to the hype surrounding her US Open debut, battling back to beat Anastasia Potapova 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in a back-and-forth thriller. - REUTERS