Osaka advances by walkover and Halep wins at rain-hit US Open

AFP/New York
Filed on September 2, 2021 | Last updated on September 2, 2021 at 12.17 am
Simona Halep celebrates her win over Kristina Kucova. (AFP)

Spanish ninth seed Garbine Muguruza, a two-time Grand Slam champion, defeated Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-2

Defending champion Naomi Osaka advanced to the third round of the US Open by walkover on Wednesday as rain showers interrupted play on the New York hardcourts.

The 23-year-old Japanese third seed, seeking her fifth Grand Slam title and third US Open crown in four years, moved on when Serbian qualifier Olga Danilovic withdrew due to illness.

“I have been feeling unwell these past few days dealing with a non-covid related viral ilness,” 20-year-old left-hander Danilovic posted on social media.

Osaka, who next faces either Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi or Canadian Leylah Fernandez, is trying to become the first back-to-back US Open winner since Serena Williams, absent with a torn hamstring, captured her third in a row in 2014.

Osaka’s Grand Slam win streak remains at 16 matches, the walkover not counting toward the run just as her withdrawing from the French Open after the first round did not halt it.

The remnants of Hurricane Ida, which slammed into the US Gulf Coast at the weekend, drenched the grounds to interrupt outside court matches.

But the show went on on the Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadium courts, which are both protected by retractable roofs.

Romanian 12th seed Simona Halep, the 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon champion, replaced Osaka on Ashe and dispatched Slovakian Kristina Kucova 6-3, 6-1.

“I was a little bit lucky to play here with the roof,” Halep said.

Despite a bandaged right thigh and a year of nagging injuries, Halep advanced on a service winner after 68 minutes for her deepest US Open run since 2016.

“I feel better. I’m more confident,” Halep said. “Before the tournament, I was a little worried with injuries.”

Spanish ninth seed Garbine Muguruza, a two-time Grand Slam champion, defeated Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-2. It was her first win in four tries against the German.

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