Naomi Osaka overcomes Coco Gauff in a three-set thriller in Cincinnati

The Japanese player came from a set down to beat the American teenager in her second-round clash at the Western & Southern Open.

Naomi Osaka in a file photo. (Image: Twitter/@WTA)

No.2 seed Naomi Osaka had to dig deep to overcome a set deficit and a break down on her way to beat Coco Gauff at the Western & Southern Open. After a hard-fought battle, she ended the challenge from American teenager, winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in their second-round clash. Osaka, who finished runner-up at the event when it was held in New York last season, needed nearly two hours to pull off the three-set win and move into the round-of-16. The World No.2 Osaka and Gauff had faced off twice before, with Osaka easing past Gauff at the 2019 US Open before Gauff got revenge at the next major, the 2020 Australian Open. This was the first time they contested a decisive third set and Osaka’s service games came to her benefit in the decider.

Earlier, Gauff started as the better of the two players and won the first set. However, the Japanese player came back strongly in the next set from a 1-3 deficit to win it. Osaka took charge in the first game of the final set and never looked back. The Japanese player was not challenged on serve in the remainder of the match, as she dropped only a single point on serve in the third set.

‘Trying to stay calm’

After the match, Osaka emphasised the importance of having good service games. “Whenever I play [Gauff], it’s definitely always very tough,” Osaka said after her win. “I felt like today the match was very serve-reliant, so I’m very happy that my first serve didn’t let me down.

“I would have been really happy if I was able to turn things around in the first set, but I’m glad that I was able to do it in the second set. I was more just examining her and trying to stay calm. I felt like the last time I played her in Australia, I was definitely not calm at all. Just trying to keep a level head and figure out like what I could do better during the match.”

Osaka will next face wildcard Jil Teichmann of Switzerland in the round-of-16 after Teichmann defeated fellow wildcard Bernarda Pera of the United States 6-1, 6-4 in 1 and 15 minutes. This will be the first meeting between Osaka and Teichmann.

Kerber topples Svitolina

Earlier, former World No.1 Angelique Kerber of Germany defeated Elina Svitolina, registering a 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 victory over the Ukrainian for a spot in the last-16. No.4 seed Svitolina came into the meeting with a 9-5 lead in their head-to-head and had won her past seven matches against Kerber. However, the German player continued her recent impressive form, defeating Svitolina after 2 hours and 9 minutes of play.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Kerber has now won 12 of her past 13 matches. She captured a grass-court title on home soil in Bad Homburg – her 13th career title – before producing a spectacular run to the Wimbledon semifinals. Kerber next takes on Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia. 2017 Roland Garros champion Ostapenko advanced to the last-16 after No.13 seed Jennifer Brady of the United States retired during the second set of their match with a left foot injury.

Sportslumo Desk

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