Published: Wed, September 04, 2019
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Osaka falls to Bencic while Vekic, Mertens win at US Open win

Osaka falls to Bencic while Vekic, Mertens win at US Open win

Naomi Osaka will not defend her title at the U.S. Open, after a fourth-round loss to Belinda Bencic on Monday, but she leaves NY having been part of one of the moments of the tournament.

That's an incredible accomplishment for such a young athlete, but unfortunately she would be facing Osaka-born Naomi Osaka, the top-ranked women's player in the world, who herself became a household name among tennis fans with her stunning victory one year ago in the 2018 US Open. Bencic pulled ahead at 6-5 with an excellent backhand passing shot and won the first set on her second opportunity, when Osaka hit a return into the net. A backhander gave Bencic the break point and Osaka handed her the game with a double fault. This year, Bencic stopped her in the quarterfinals of a tournament at Madrid and ended Osaka's attempt to defend her Indian Wells title with a straight-sets win in the round of 16.

"I can look at this and be very disappointed and mad, but I'm not mad about it", Osaka said.

"I just want to say, you guys raised an wonderful player", Osaka said, searching the crowd for Gauff's parents.

While her record this year stands at a mixed-bag 26-10 with an Australian Open title and a No. 1 ranking, it stands at 0-3 in 2019 against one Belinda Bencic.

"I mean, in Wimbledon, I walked out on you guys", she said to the media with a smile.

"I'm really pleased with how I played and how I managed my nerves in the end", she added. Then I also believed if I'm going to get back and healthy, I can play on this level, because I proved it so many times.

In Vekic, Bencic will be playing an opponent who has endured similar struggles, having won her first WTA title at the age of 17 but then finding grand slam success hard to come by. "I did some things that I'm not proud of and that I'm working on to be a better person on the court because I do think I'm a good person out of the court".

She had drawn first blood by winning a high-quality first set where both players combined for 31 winners and only 19 unforced errors.

By then, Bencic was up a set and a break, employing a quick-strike style of taking balls early and snapping them back, rushing Osaka and not leaving her not enough time to respond.

Osaka, 21, was broken late in the opening set and then again in the fifth game of the second under the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof at Flushing Meadows.

"I know so much from them, what they've taught me", Bencic said.

The wildcard will break into the top 100 on the back of her exploits, though, and said of her ascension: "It's insane".

"I think it helps when the belief is there, when you know you can be top 10".

"It was just an unbelievable moment for tennis", Bencic said of Osaka helping Gauff cope with her sadness. "Of course I'd like to reach higher rounds".

The biggest storyline for Goerges in this tournament so far has been the improvement of her second serve. Vekic is playing well in her own right, but she has a history of coming up short in big matches and has had little to no success in grand slam play previously.

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