The world No. 1 from Japan defeated No. 84 Anna Blinkova of Russia 6-Four, 6-7(5), 6-2 on Tuesday in her return to Arthur Ashe Stadium, the scene of her first main title. But it surely was removed from simple.
“I do not assume I’ve ever been this nervous in my life,” Osaka stated to ESPN on court docket after the win.
Osaka obtained off to a gradual begin, trailing by an early break within the opening set. However the two-time main champion responded by breaking Blinkova twice in a row — the second of which bringing out a smile from the 21-year-old — earlier than closing out the primary set.
The curler coaster continued within the second set, with Osaka saving three set factors to make it 5-5. Within the following sport, she went on to interrupt Blinkova at love. Serving for the match at 6-5, nevertheless, wasn’t so easy, with Blinkova saving a match level and forcing the tiebreak. On her fifth set level, Blinkova got here by means of to power a decider.
In any case of that work, Osaka had no hassle closing the third set. She completed with 43 winners to 50 unforced errors in a match that lasted two hours, 28 minutes.
“I simply got here off actually gradual, and I by no means actually discovered my rhythm,” Osaka stated to ESPN. “However I feel I simply fought as arduous as I may, and I managed to win.”
On requested why she was nervous, Osaka replied she “simply undoubtedly did not need to lose within the first spherical.”
“You type of need to do effectively if you did effectively final 12 months,” Osaka stated to the group. “For me, I simply — I do not know. I actually love you guys, so I wished to remain right here longer.”
In January when she gained the Australian Open, Osaka turned the primary lady to win her second consecutive main after profitable her first since Jennifer Capriati did so in 2001 (Australian Open adopted by the French Open). However after hoisting the trophy in Melbourne, Osaka was a bit uneven away from the arduous courts, shedding within the third spherical of the French Open and within the first spherical at Wimbledon.
There’s additionally been latest harm. Earlier this month on the Western & Southern Open within the Cincinnati suburb of Mason, Ohio, Osaka was compelled to retire in her quarterfinal match in opposition to American Sofia Kenin due to a knee harm. Osaka wore a knee brace on her left knee in her match Tuesday.
Whereas she could not have been on the high of her sport on Tuesday, Osaka is again on her most comfy floor. She’s reached two quarterfinals this summer time in Toronto and Cincinnati, and all three of her profession singles titles have been gained on arduous courts, having additionally gained Indian Wells in 2018.