Naomi Osaka advances to US Open second round

The 23-year-old Japanese star stretched her Grand Slam win streak to 16 matches and will next face Serbian qualifier Olga Danilovic.

Naomi Osaka in action.   -  AP

Naomi Osaka overcame a slow start to beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-1 on Monday, as the world number three got her U.S. Open title defence underway in front of a roaring capacity crowd.

Unseeded Czech Bouzkova held her own through much of the first set but failed to convert on four break point opportunities against the Japanese four-time Grand Slam winner.

Osaka, who fired 21 winners but committed 13 unforced errors in the first set, broke Bouzkova's serve at 5-4 to win the opener and never looked back, winning the first five games of the second despite struggling with her first serve.

She closed out the match with a forehand winner, offering a smile and a wave to the stands that were empty a year ago.

Simona Halep makes winning return to Grand Slam action at US Open

Brady and Ostapenko among Monday withdrawals

American Jennifer Brady was among a handful of players who withdrew from the U.S. Open on Monday, adding to the list of competitors who had already announced they were skipping the year's final major due to injury.

Brady, who reached the tournament's semi-finals in 2020 and earlier this year lost in the Australian Open final to Naomi Osaka, pulled out with an unspecified injury, the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) said, with lucky loser Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland replacing her in the draw.

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko, who won the French Open in 2017, pulled out with a medical reason, the WTA said, while Briton Johanna Konta withdrew due to a left thigh injury.

The players were replaced in the singles draw by Belgian Greet Minnen and Russia's Kamilla Rakhimova, respectively.

- From Reuters

"It feels kind of crazy to play in front of everyone again," said Osaka. "Last year when we didn't have a crowd I know it felt quite lonely for me."

The evening marked a reassuring return to form for Osaka, who crashed out in the third round of the Tokyo Olympics and the Western & Southern Open.

She said she felt at home at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where she won her first major title three years ago.

"I think it might be the court where I've played the most matches in my career," said Osaka. "I'm just glad I won."

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