Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Osaka follows Djokovic out the door in U.S. Open

   Less than 24 hours after world No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic lost in the round of 16 at the U.S. Open, his female counterpart did the same.
   Naomi Osaka fell to 13th-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 7-5, 6-4 on Monday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Since winning her second consecutive Grand Slam singles title in the Australian Open in January, the 21-year-old Osaka has failed to reach the quarterfinals of a major.
   Ashleigh Barty will rise one spot to regain the No. 1 ranking after the U.S. Open, Karolina Pliskova will improve one notch to No. 2, and Osaka will drop to No. 3.
   Bencic, 22, advanced to her second Grand Slam quarterfinal. The first came five years ago in the U.S. Open.
   A 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) right-hander, Bencic climbed to a career-high No. 7 at age 18 in 2016 but underwent left-wrist surgery in the spring of 2017 and sat out for five months. She has fought back from No. 318 in September 2017 to No. 12 and will improve to at least No. 8 after the U.S. Open.
Donna Vekic, shown last month in San Jose, saved
a match point in her three-set victory over Julia
Goerges. Photo by Mal Taam
   Bencic is set to face 23rd-seeded Donna Vekic of Croatia on Wednesday. Vekic, a semifinalist in San Jose last month and first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, saved a match point in her 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3 victory over 26th-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany.
   Bencic is 2-1 against the 23-year-old Vekic, winning in straight sets on grass and a hard court in 2014 and losing 6-4, 6-1 in the third round of the French Open in June.
   In the other quarterfinal in the top half of the women's draw, 15th-seeded Bianca Andreescu of Canada will meet 25th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium for the first time.
   Andreescu, 19, stopped U.S. qualifier Taylor Townsend, who played for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis six years ago at 17, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. Mertens routed U.S. wild card Kristie Ahn 6-1, 6-1 in 66 minutes, avenging a loss to the 27-year-old Stanford graduate in the second round in San Jose.
   Ahn had never won a main-draw match in a Grand Slam tournament before last week. She was born two miles from the National Tennis Center at Flushing Hospital, lives in nearby Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and trains at the center.
   Ahn will soar 48 places to No. 93, cracking the top 100 for the first time, and add $280,000 to her career prize money of $548,241.
   In the men's quarterfinals in the bottom half of the draw on Wednesday, second seed and three-time U.S. Open champion Rafael Nadal will play 20th-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, and 13th-seeded Gael Monfils of France will meet 24th-seeded Matteo Berrettini of Italy for the first time.
   Nadal, 33, is 7-0 against the 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter) Schwartzman, 27.
   Meanwhile, 41-year-old twins Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, both former Stanford stars, lost in the third round of a major for the third consecutive time. The seventh seeds and five-time U.S. Open champions fell to unseeded Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow 6-4, 7-5 in an all-American matchup.
   Sock and Mike Bryan won last year's U.S. Open while Bob Bryan was recovering from hip surgery.
   Also on Monday, fourth-seeded Latisha Chan of Chinese Taipei and Ivan Dodig of Croatia topped Raquel Atawo (Cal, 2001-04) of San Jose and Fabrice Martin of France 7-6 (3), 3-6 [10-3] in the mixed doubles quarterfinals.
   In the first round of boys singles, 16-year-old Aidan Mayo, who grew up in the Sacramento suburb of Roseville, surprised 12th-seeded Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan 6-4, 7-5.

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