New York: Defending champion Naomi Osaka was stunned 5-7, 4-6 by Belinda Bencic in their women’s singles encounter Monday at the US Open tennis tournament as the Japanese lost her grip on both her title and No.1 status while the Swiss reached the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows for the second time.
Belinda Bencic got off to a bright start on a rainy day here, breaking the World No.1 under the closed roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium, and her superior serving carried the day as she won 82 per cent of her first serve points.
Momentum swung firmly in the 22-year-old Belinda Bencic’s direction in the second set when Osaka double faulted to hand the 13th seed a 3-2 lead and the top-seeded Japanese, who appeared to struggle with a troublesome left knee, was unable to recover.
Bencic improved to 3-0 this year against the 21-year-old Osaka, who came through an emotional straight sets win over 15-year-old American Coco Gauff in the third round Saturday.
Osaka’s defeat means Australia’s Ash Barty, who lost in straight sets to China’s Wang Qiang in the fourth round Sunday, will regain the World No.1 spot from the Japanese.
Naomi Osaka said that although she was disappointed with Monday’s result she still considered her trip to New York a success.
“Right now I have this feeling of sadness, but I also feel like I have learned so much during this tournament,” she told reporters. “The steps that I have taken as a person have been much greater than I would imagine at this point. So I hope that I can keep growing. I know that if I keep working hard, then of course I’ll have better results,” added the Japanese.
Bencic, who also reached the US Open quarterfinals in 2014 when she was just 17 but has struggled with injuries in recent years, said that taking Osaka’s powerful serve early and keeping her energy up was the key to winning the match.
“I was so excited to come on the court, the challenge could not be bigger so I had to be on top of my game,” Bencic said in an on-court interview. “I’m really pleased with how I played and how I managed my nerves in the end,” she added.
Next up for Bencic is a meeting with Croatia’s 23rd seed Donna Vekic, who beat Germany’s Julia Goerges 6-7(5-7), 7-5, 6-3 on Louis Armstrong Stadium court earlier Monday.