Defending Champion Naomi Osaka Toughs Out Three-set Win; Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitisipas, Karen Khanchanov Lose in First Round of US Open
(August 27, 2019) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Naomi Osaka was off to a shaky start of her title defense on Tuesday at the US Open. The world No. 1 had to fight off a tough Anna Blinkova, ranked 84th in the world 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 to advance to the second round. The woman who represents Japan had to battle back form 3-0 down in the first set. She had a chance to close out the match in straight sets, with a match point at 6-5 in the second, but her hit a forehand error.
Osaka was wearing a black sleeve on her left knee due to a recent injury. She hit 50 errors during the match.
“I felt nervous,” Osaka admitted in her news conference, defending a major tournament for the first time. “I mean, for me it’s definitely a new feeling. Never had to come into a tournament as — well, come into a Grand Slam. I mean, I went to Indian Wells once. So I did feel like that gave me a little bit of practice, but the amount of nerves that I felt today was completely different than in California.
“Yeah, I’m kind of really glad that’s over.”
“It (nervousness) was kind of consistent throughout the entire match, which was very strange for me, because normally it would be, like, the first couple of games or the first set.”
“I think there were moments where I played really well, and then moments where, I mean, I didn’t play as well. I think as a whole, I just need to learn how to stay more consistent on the good side.
“But I didn’t really expect myself to play amazing today. And I knew it was going to be a really tough battle. The only thing I would have wished is that I won the first match point.”
Only two former US Open women’s champions have ever lost in the first round the following year during the open era – the last time in 2017 when Osaka beat defending champion Angelique Kerber.
Asked to describe where she was physically and mentally last year as opposed to this year, and if she has a target on her back this year as the denfiending champion, the two-time major champion said: I don’t feel a bull’s-eye. I feel more like I’m trying to do something, if that makes sense. I feel like at this point everyone that I play is going to play really well, and I just need to learn how to cope with that and expect that going into the matches. I feel like I have been doing a better job of that recently.
I think I need to factor in the fact that this is a Grand Slam, too, and that’s also going to raise everyone’s level, so I shouldn’t be taken by surprise as much as I was, like, today.
Yeah, I mean, everyone kind of knows, like, last year I lost three matches in a row. I just wanted to win one match here. This year back-to-back quarterfinals, and I feel like I can really do something here, so that’s what I’m trying to do.
Earlier in the day on Court 17, No. 6 seed Petra Kvitova beat Czech countrywoman Denise Allertova 6-2 6-4.
“Obviously not easy playing Czech opponent in a way, said the two-time Wimbledon champion. “We never face each other on the tour but we practice many times in Prague and Fed Cup tie. We know each other pretty well.
“For me it was the first round. For her it was like a fourth round. She qualified. So definitely she was playing well, and we play kind of similar game to each other. She wanted to put pressure on me and I wanted to put pressure on her.
“Luckily I was the first one who did it, and I think I served pretty well today, as well. I’m pretty glad that I played good match today.”
She’ll face Andrea Petkovic of Germany next in the second round.
“We played many times in the past. I do remember when I lost to her in Australian Open, which wasn’t really great. So, yeah, I going to try, going to be prepared for her. I know how she’s playing. We know each other very well.
“We’ll see, but, yeah, it will be another tough battle, anyway. She likes to put the pressure on the opponent, as well, playing fast. That’s what I going to try, as well.”
No. 8 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas has now lost in the first round for the second straight major tournament, not long after an outburst against the chair umpire.
The Greek player was beaten by No. 43 Andrey Rublev of Russia 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 7-5 in a 3-hour, 54-minute match.
Tisitsipas was battling cramps an was given a time violation by the chair umpire for not getting back to court quickly enough.
He said : “you have something against me.”
“You’re French probably.”
“You’re all weirdos.”
“The chair umpire was very incorrect in what he was telling me during the match,” Tsitsipas said to reporters during his news conference. “I don’t know what this chair umpire has in specific against my team but he’s been complaining and telling me that my team talks all of the time when I’m out on the court playing. He’s very — I don’t know. I believe he’s not right, because I never hear anything of what my team says from the outside. And there is nothing that I personally believe can help my game or make me play better.
“My father outside, who usually does the talking, he’s trying to pump me up by saying, you know, Come on. Raising my confidence by not coaching but by trying to boost me up. I believe the coach for my opponent does the same thing, which is normal.
“This chair umpire, I don’t know, he has something against me. I don’t know why.”
“I wish that all the chair umpires were like Mohamed Lahyani because I believe he’s the best out in the game, and we need more like him in tennis because he’s fair to everyone,” he added. “I feel like some of them have preferences when they are on the court.”
“Well, it’s not very pleasant when you have the umpire give you warnings and time violations and coaching violations during a match. It can affect your thinking. It can affect your decision-making.
’’And I sometimes believe there is nothing to give there. I can tell you, I can tell my honest truth of what I feel, if I feel sometimes if my dad is coaching, I’m so concentrated in that match there is no way I’m going to think of what my dad tells me from the outside.
“I just hear a buzz in my head. I can’t hear anything. I’m not trying to concentrate on what my team is telling me from the outside because this is going to affect my game. And I try not to pay too much attention to it.”
Fourth seed Dominic Thiem lost to Thomas Fabbiano 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 on Arthur Ashe Stadium. It marks the second straight major wher he has lost in the first round,
“Well, I got very, very tired and exhausted after two sets,” sad Thiem. “I’m far away from 100%. Like this, it’s very tough to win. I went on court because in tennis, especially in such long two-week tournaments, anything can happen.
“But it is what it is.”
“Congratulations to him and I’m happy for him. But it was not the real me there on the court. All I was thinking about was me, how I somehow can win the match.”
Adding to the men’s seed carnage on Tuesday was No. 9 seed Karen Khachanov who lost to No. 216 Vasek Pospisil 4-6, 7-5, 7-7, 4-6, 6-3.
Other seeds to lose on the men’s side were  Felix Auger-Aliasimme and  Kyle Edmund.
More to follow….