WTA US Open: Naomi Osaka overcomes nerves. Bertens and Petkovic win


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WTA US Open: Naomi Osaka overcomes nerves. Bertens and Petkovic win

The defending US Open champion Naomi Osaka is through to the second round following a 6-4, 6-7, 6-2 triumph over Anna Blinkova in two hours and 28 minutes. Dealing with nerves and a tough opponent, the Japanese didn't play at her best once again but was the dominant figure on the court with 44 winners and 50 unforced errors, facing 11 break chances and fending off nine of those to mount the pressure on her rival.

Blinkova played against eight break points and suffered five breaks, losing the edge in the decider and allowing the top seed to march into the second round after failing to match Naomi's numbers. The Russian made a perfect start, opening a 4-1 lead before Naomi started to climb back, rattling off five straight games to steal the first set and build much-needed confidence ahead of the rest of the encounter.

Blinkova was the better player in set number two, delivering one good hold after another and wasting three set points on the return at 5-4 before suffering a break at love that enabled Osaka to serve for the win. Instead of bringing the match home, Naomi wasted a match point to get broken, losing the tie break 7-5 and having to work all over in the decider.

Keeping her focus, the Japanese broke in games four and eight to cross the finish line, firing 13 winners and eight unforced errors to seal the deal and avoid an upset. Alison Riske earned the first US Open victory since 2013, ousting the struggling Spaniard Garbine Muguruza 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 in just over two hours.

There were almost 30 break chances up for grabs and the American played better after losing the opener, suffering four straight breaks but recovering her game after 1-1 in set number two, taking 11 of the last 14 games to carry the triumph home.

Alison grabbed 25 of the final 36 points, producing four service games of the highest order and breaking Muguruza twice in the decider to book the spot in the second round. The 7th seed Kiki Bertens had a great day at the office, toppling the young Spaniard Paula Badosa 6-4, 6-2 in 64 minutes, seeking the first notable result in New York in a career.

Firing 23 winners and 17 unforced errors, Kiki had the upper hand and lost just 13 points behind the initial shot, never facing a break point and seizing three out of four chances on the return to move over the top and reach the last 64.

The 21st seed Anett Kontaveit took down Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-1, 6-1 in 54 minutes for the first triumph in New York since 2015. The Estonian lost 12 points in service games, fending off the only break chance she offered to the Spaniard and stealing 64% of the return points for five breaks and a clear path towards the next round in no time at all.

Andrea Petkovic ousted Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 36 minutes, playing better on the second serve and earning five breaks that shifted her towards the finish line in straight sets, celebrating the first win here in three years and hoping to repeat what she did in 2010 when we saw her in the quarter-final.