New York – Anna Blinkova did her best to cause the biggest upset of the US Open on Tuesday when she took on defending champion Naomi Osaka. After testing World No. 1 in the first set and scoring the second with a late rally, Osaka found himself in the decision inside Arthur Ash Stadium, with all the pressure the scenarios generated.
"I don't think I've ever been so nervous in my life," Osaka said. "I don't think I ever found my rhythm, but I just fought as hard as I could."
Osaka, picked up his game to survive the battle 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2, has now won 15 major hard court games. The top seeds must win the title – with other results that fall in her favor ̵
But despite fears of an early round, Osaka seemed to be part of the WTA leader in its unique Sacai x Nike center stage scene, along with its world-class service and rhythms on earth.
While Osaka's fame continues to increase, few are familiar with the 84th Blink. But like Osaka last year, she made quite an impression in New York, reaching her first WTA quarterfinals last week at the Bronx Open.
After spending most of April, May and June touring the ITF, the 20-year-old old Russian lost two setbacks to eventual champion Magda Linet in the Bronx Open qualification. Admitted in the main draw as luck, she won victories over CoCo Vandweghe and Mihaela Buzarenscu and even won the first set 6-0 over world number 18 Wang Qiang before falling to three.
"I just wanted to concentrate on my tennis and play my game, not think against who I play," Blinkova said in the Bronx after his 6-3, 6-0 win over former No. 10 Vandeweghe.
Such focus was on the show on Tuesday, as Blink she was fascinated by the great occasion, the scene of the mammoth, the famous adversary and the gigantic difference in experience. She produced her best tennis – one that served her so well last week.
"They boost my confidence," Blinkova said, essentially, of all his additional matches leading to the US Open. Blinkova has a solid mainstream game with penetrating bumps on both wings and mental endurance beyond her years – she never, never, ever gives up.
It is a deep-rooted, delightful quality that she shares between Maria Sharapova and Sofia Kenin. And Blinkova almost never misses: in 2 hours and 28 minutes, she made 22 unexpected mistakes to Osaka's 50s. These numbers, combined with her unruly, intense temperament, make her a tough opponent in the first round.
Of course, Osaka knows a great deal about solid blows and mental strength itself. The 21-year-old didn't let the lost second set – in which she had a match point – screen her off the rails. Instead, she taught Blink a power-up lesson by hitting 44 winners on 15. Blink by the time most fans were still processing the stumble of Osaka's second set, she was on vacation in the third and never looked back. Blinkova recently tasted the success of the Grand Slam, reaching the third round of Roland Garros as a qualifier. Her draw in New York gave her a small chance to make another splash. Instead, Osaka will face an even more confident opponent, Bronx Open Linet champion in the second round.
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