Osaka Begins Title Defence with Scrappy Win, Serena Through

first_imgDefending champion Naomi Osaka fought her way into the second round of the US Open with victory over Anna Blinkova.Osaka, who lifted her first major title at Flushing Meadows a year ago, fell 4-1 down in the first set but then won five straight games on the way to an unconvincing victory.The Japanese top seed had a chance to win at 6-5 in the second but was broken back, before Blinkova managed to steal the set in the tie-break. Serena Williams Osaka moved 4-1 ahead in the deciding set, then broke again to win 5-2 and see off a dogged Blinkova.Osaka will now face Astra Sharma or Magda Linette in the next round.Similarly, Serena Williams made the perfect return to the US Open after last year’s controversial final by thrashing her long-time rival Maria Sharapova.Williams, 37, won 6-1 6-1 in a first-round meeting which ended up lasting just 59 minutes.Twelve months ago, Williams called the umpire “a cheat” and “a liar” during her loss to Naomi Osaka.But the mood was rather different as she beat the 32-year-old Russian for the 19th time in a row.Eighth seed Williams, who is bidding for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title and a first since returning from giving birth two years ago, broke Sharapova’s serve five times as she eased into a second-round meeting with fellow American Catherine McNally.When asked about the decision not to allow Portuguese umpire Carlos Ramos to officiate her matches in New York following their infamous row, Williams said: “I do not know who that is.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img

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