Osaka battles past Ukrainian teen Kostyuk to reach US Open round of 16

Flushing Meadows, New York, Sep 4 (efe-epa).- Japan’s Naomi Osaka faced a stern challenge Friday afternoon from talented Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk at the US Open, but she pulled away in the latter stages for a 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2 victory and a berth in the fourth round.

The fourth-seeded Osaka, who injured her hamstring at last week’s Western & Southern Open and has her upper left leg heavily wrapped, struggled with her 18-year-old opponent’s power on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Kostyuk beat herself with unforced errors and double faults in the first set, as Osaka weathered 11 winners off her opponent’s racket to take the opener in 42 minutes on the strength of two service breaks.

In the second set, however, the Ukrainian lowered her error count and saved eight of the nine break points she faced to force a tiebreaker.

She then rallied from an early deficit in that decider and won a crucial point with a backhand reflex volley winner before knotting the match at a set apiece.

Kostyuk looked capable of pulling off the upset, particularly when Osaka faced a 0-40 deficit when serving at 1-2 in the third set.

But the 22-year-old Japanese star erased five break points in that game and did not look back, reeling off five straight games to claim the victory in two hours and 33 minutes.

Afterward, Osaka was full of praise for her young opponent.

“My biggest takeaway from her game is that she didn’t back down from me or from the speed of my ball, which for someone that young is kind of amazing,” the two-time Grand Slam champion was quoted as saying on the WTA’s official website.

“The first set went (my) way, and then she could have faded in the second set. Of course in the third set towards the end I feel like physically I was better, and I was, of course, more experienced. But, yeah, I feel like she’s definitely going to be dangerous.”

Osaka also referred afterward to the pivotal fourth game of the third set.

“I feel like that game was very important,” said Osaka afterwards. “Honestly, I’m not sure how it would have went if she won it and I would have had to break her back, but thankfully I don’t have to think about it too much.”

Next up for Osaka in the round of 16 will be 14th-seeded Estonian Anett Kontaveit, who cruised past Poland’s Magda Linette 6-3, 6-2.

In other women’s third-round singles results on Friday, 2006 US Open champion Angelique Kerber moved through with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over 20-year-old American Ann Li and eighth-seeded Croatian Petra Martic cruised past Russia’s Varvara Gracheva 6-3, 6-3.

In men’s singles third-round action, 12th-seeded Canadian Denis Shapovalov rallied from a set down to defeat American Taylor Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 and Spanish 2017 US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreño Busta brushed aside Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

Carreño Busta could square off in the round of 16 against Serbian world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is playing Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff in the first night match on Arthur Ashe Stadium. EFE-EPA


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