New York - Top-ranked
defending champion Naomi Osaka was ousted from the US Open on Monday by
Belinda Bencic while Croatian Donna Vekic erased a match point to join
the Swiss 13th seed in a quarter-final match-up.
Bencic's 7-5, 6-4 triumph, her WTA-best sixth over a top-five foe
this year, ensured 21-year-old Japanese star Osaka will fall from atop
the rankings next week and won't become the first repeat US Open winner
since Serena Williams in 2014.
"The challenge cannot be bigger against Naomi," Bencic said.
to be at the top of my game and I'm really pleased how well I handled my
nerves at the end."
Bencic, 22, matched her deepest career Grand Slam run from the 2014
US Open with her third victory of the year over Osaka, having also won
at Indian Wells and Madrid.
"She played pretty clean. She had a specific plan she wanted to execute," Osaka said.
"I guess just being aggressive."
Australia's Ashleigh Barty, the reigning French Open champion, will
move atop the rankings next Monday after the loss by Osaka, who defends
her Australian Open title in January.
"I can look at this and be very disappointed and mad, but I'm not mad
about it," Osaka said.
"I'd like to reach higher rounds. That's
definitely what I'll aim for in Australia."
Osaka's exit means there will be four different women's Grand Slam
winners in a season for the third consecutive year, a first in the Open
Vekic, the 23rd seed, saved a match point in the second set and made
her first Slam quarter-final by rallying past German 26th seed Julia
Goerges 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-3.
"I don't even know how I won this match," Vekic said.
serving for the match. She had match point. I just kept fighting and
believing I could win. It feels pretty amazing."
Bencic owns a 2-1 career edge over Vekic from two 2014 wins but Vekic
won the most recent meeting with her friend and frequent practice
partner in this year's French Open third round.
Belgian 25th seed Elise
Mertens cruised past 141st-ranked US wildcard Kristie Ahn 6-1, 6-1 in 67
minutes to book a quarter-final berth against 19-year-old Canadian 15th
seed Bianca Andreescu.
"I just tried to play my best game," said Mertens, who has dropped only 16 games in four matches.
"I try to improve every time. I try to invest in my game. It's coming
out this week and hopefully I can go much further than this."
The only deeper Slam run for Mertens was into last year's Australian
Open semi-finals while Andreescu, whom the Belgian has never faced,
extended her career-best Slam performance by defeating 116th-ranked US
qualifier Taylor Townsend 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.
Andreescu, a champion this year at Indian Wells and Toronto who could
crack the world top 10 next week, improved to 6-0 this year against
"It wasn't easy," Andreescu said. "I made sure to work on my passing
shots during practice and it worked in the first and third sets. I'm
glad I kept my cool at the end."
Andreescu breezed through the first set in 31 minutes, but double
faulted to surrender the second set. She broke Townsend to open the
third set and again for a 4-1 edge on the way to victory.
It's the first time all eight US Open quarter-finalists have been
seeds since 2012 and a first at any Slam since the 2014 Australian Open.
Osaka took a pain-killer to ease nagging knee issues but nothing could help her overcome Bencic.
"I didn't move well. I was always flat-footed. She was aggressive,"
Osaka said. "The knee was a little bit annoying in the movement aspect
but that was something I should have overcome."
Osaka struggled from the start on the same Arthur Ashe Stadium court
where she consoled tearful US teen Coco Gauff just two days earlier.
Bencic hit a backhand down-the-line winner to break for a 6-5 lead then held on a service winner to capture the first set.
Osaka, who had 21 unforced errors, double faulted away a second-set
break to hand Vekic a 3-2 lead while the Swiss never faced a break
Goerges won the tie-breaker with consecutive forehand winners, then broke Vekic to open the second set.
But the German was broken serving for the match, squandering a match
point in the 10th game, and Vekic broke again when Goerges hit a
forehand wide to force a third set, which she dominated.
US Open results on Monday (x denotes seeding):
Matteo Berrettini (ITA x24) bt Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (8/6)
Gael Monfils (FRA x13) bt Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-1, 6-2, 6-2
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x20) bt Alexander Zverev (GER x6) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4,
Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Marin Cilic (CRO x22) 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
Belinda Bencic (SUI x13) bt Naomi Osaka (JPN x1) 7-5, 6-4
Donna Vekic (CRO x23) bt Julia Goerges (GER x26) 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-3
Bianca Andreescu (CAN x15) bt Taylor Townsend (USA) 6-1, 4-6, 6-2
Elise Mertens (BEL x25) bt Kristie Ahn (USA) 6-1, 6-1