Defending champion Angelique Kerber of Germany was knocked out of the US Open in the first round when she lost 6-3 6-1 to Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka on Tuesday.
Naomi Osaka ruthlessly tossed aside defending US Open champion Angelique Kerber in the first round on Tuesday, but she warned that she was just getting started at Flushing Meadows, where she used to practice. (Reuters)
The last defending women's champion to lose in the first round at Flushing Meadows was Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2005. (Reuters)
The Japanese teenager, who grew up in Long Island, was never in danger against former world number one Kerber, winning a one-sided contest 6-3 6-1 despite some late nerves.
"When we were little, we would come to the US Open every year. And even to practice, sometimes I would play here," the 19-year-old Osaka, who has dual nationality, told a news conference. (AFP)
"So the site feels really familiar to me... It's nostalgic every time I come here, so I'm always really happy to play here."
Yet, Osaka felt nervous against Kerber in the 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, having lost to American Madison Keys in the third round of the US Open last year after leading 5-1 in the third set.
"I was so nervous on the last point. I just barely returned the serve," said Osaka, whose father is Haitian and mother is Japanese. (AFP)
"I just really didn't want to play a long point on the last one, so I was really glad when she made an error.
"When I stepped on the court and I heard all the people and I saw how big the stadium was, I got a little bit freaked out, but I tried to hold it in."
It was, however, Osaka's aggressive style, more than Kerber's mistakes, that won her the match and the youngster, who could play French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko if she reaches the fourth round, can look ahead with confidence.
"Moving forward, I feel like I know that I can play with the top players now, so I don't have to be as nervous as I was today," she said in a warning to her next opponent, Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson or Czech Denisa Allertova.
The 19-year-old Osaka, the 2016 WTA newcomer of the year, was rarely troubled by the sixth-seeded Kerber, who has not won a title since she prevailed here last year.
World number one Rafa Nadal dismissed Dusan Lajovic 7-6 (6) 6-2 6-2 to ease into the US Open second round on Tuesday, setting the Spaniard on a collision course for a long overdue Flushing Meadows showdown with Roger Federer. (Reuters)
While the year's final grand slam is only just underway tennis fans have circled Sept. 8 when, if all goes to form, Nadal and Federer would meet in the last four to decide a place in the final.
One of the great rivalries in sport, Federer, a five-times US Open winner and Nadal, twice champion, have clashed 37 times over the years but never have they stood across the net on Flushing Meadows' hardcourts. (Reuters)
On French Open clay, Wimbledon's manicured lawns and in Australian heat, the elegant Swiss maestro and muscular Spaniard have played for titles and while no trophy would be on the line a New York meeting would still have the Big Apple buzzing.
Federer will follow Nadal on to Arthur Ashe Stadium later on Tuesday looking to hold up his end of the deal when he takes on American Frances Tiafoe.
"Today I won. That's the most important thing for me," Nadal told reporters. "I believe that I am ready."
After a sluggish run-up to the US Open that included a shock round of 16 loss to Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov in Montreal and another to Australian Nick Kyrgios in the Cincinnati quarter-finals, Nadal needed a few games to find his range against the 85th-ranked Serb.
The 21-year-old, chasing a first US Open win, showed no sign of nerves, using his stylish groundstrokes to grab the early break on the way to 4-2 lead, the four games as many as he won in his only other meeting with Nadal, a round of 16 loss at the 2014 French Open.
But a steely Nadal found his comfort zone, breaking back at 5-5 to force the opener to a tiebreak that he took 8-6.
A ruthless Nadal delivered the young Serb another tennis lesson, breaking his opponent at the first opportunity in the second and third sets to improve his record in first round US Open matches to 13-0. (Reuters)