US Open: Osaka overcomes in-form Linette in round two, Kobe and Kaepernick cheer her on

Reigning US Open champion Naomi Osaka beat Magda Linette to reach the third round, and helped some famous fans beat the heat in the process.

Naomi Osaka celebrates during her second-round match at the US Open   -  Getty Images

Naomi Osaka moved into round three of the US Open with a straight-sets win over in-form Magda Linette, but she did not have it al her own way.

Reigning champion Osaka was taken the distance by Anna Blinkova in her opener on Tuesday but avoided a repeat after reeling off five straight games to come from behind in the second set and triumph 6-2 6-4.

The world number one will face the winner of the encounter between teenage sensation Coco Gauff and Timea Babos in the third round.

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Osaka was forced to retire from her Western & Southern Open quarter-final against Sofia Kenin due to a knee injury and admitted after overcoming Blinkova she did not feel at her best.

However, she started strongly at Louis Armstrong Stadium on Thursday, not dropping a single point in her first two service games and then breaking to love.

The two-time major champion rallied from 40-0 down in game seven to earn a double break and promptly wrapped up a commanding first set.

Linette - who was on a nine-match winning streak that included clinching a first WTA Tour title at the Bronx Open - won against serve when Osaka buried a shot in the net early in the second and the Japanese was fortunate her opponent failed to repeat a stunning forehand down the line for a 4-0 advantage.

Osaka heeded the warning and came straight back, regaining her rhythm and surging into a potential blockbuster against Gauff that would delight the fans at Flushing Meadows.

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Colin Kaepernick and Kobe Bryant watched Naomi Osaka play at the US Open.   -  Getty Images


One for the fans

Interestingly her straight-sets win was partially motivated by a desire to keep Kobe Bryant and Colin Kaepernick out of the sun.

Five-time NBA champion Bryant and former San Francisco 49ers star Kaepernick, whose activism has effectively ended his NFL career but seen him become one of the world's most influential athletes, were sat in Osaka's box on Thursday as she overcame Linette 6-2 6-4.

The top seed wrapped things up in much shorter order to reach round three, helping her famous fans beat the heat in the process at Flushing Meadows.

Asked if she felt added pressure having Bryant and Kaepernick in her box, Osaka told a media conference: "I don't feel like it's pressure, but I do feel like I did want to play well.

"I don't know. It's just funny to me. You know, like, last year compared to this year there is no way, like, Kobe would sit in my box. Yeah, Kaepernick, too. It's just crazy who you run into in life.

"For me, it wasn't pressure. It was just like I really didn't want them to sit in the sun too long, honestly. That was the thing that was on my mind. I was, like, I don't really want to play a third set."

On the advice Bryant gives her, she added: "Everybody knows Kobe gives me real-life advice. He's someone I look up to as an athlete and also as a person.

"I'm really grateful that I even have the opportunity to, like, talk to him and stuff."