New York — Naomi Osaka stood firm after a parade of champions departed from the US Open on Sunday, blasting her way into the quarterfinals with a 6-3 6-4 win over Anett Kontaveit.
On a dramatic day seven, three-time champion Novak Djokovic was disqualified from the men’s draw for hitting a ball into a line judge’s throat and 2016 women’s champion Angelique Kerber was dumped out by American Jennifer Brady.
But 2018 winner Osaka restored order in the final match at Arthur Ashe Stadium with an impressive display of power and patience against the giant-killing Estonian. After whipping through the first set in 28 minutes, frustration grew for the two-time Grand Slam champion as she failed to convert five match points and eight out of nine breakpoints in the second set.
Aware that Djokovic had been sent packing after losing his cool midmatch against Pablo Carreno Busta, Osaka was mindful of keeping her emotions in check at Flushing Meadows.
“I didn’t really see what happened live [with Djokovic]. I was sleeping because I knew I was going to play a very late match but yeah, I saw it afterwards, the aftermath,” she said in an on-court interview. “For me, that’s definitely like a warning to never do that.”
Osaka’s left thigh was heavily strapped as she continues to manage a hamstring injury but the 22-year-old moved superbly against Kontaveit to set up a clash against unseeded American Shelby Rogers.
World No 93 Rogers was courage personified as she saved four match points before knocking out twice Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 7-6(5) 3-6 7-6(6).
Osaka has a 3-0 losing record to Rogers, who defeated Serena Williams in August in Lexington, but their last match came in 2017 at Charleston, when the Japanese No 1 was barely on the radar.
“I don’t know, it feels like such a long time ago. I have to definitely watch a couple more matches of hers,” Osaka said of video preparations against Rogers.
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