Gauff sets up Osaka showdown; Nadal gets walkover into third round
Images from Thursday's second round matches at the US Open.
Former Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki rallied back to beat American Danielle Collins 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday to secure a spot in the third round of the US Open.
The Danish 19th seed, who has not been past the second round in New York since her run to the semi-finals in 2016, secured the victory when she served out to love in the final game.
Collins, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals this year, did well to grab the first set but lost her way in the second when Wozniacki made the necessary adjustments and raced out to a 5-0 lead.
“She started off very aggressively and I couldn’t really find any rhythm,” Wozniacki said in her on-court interview.
“I just stayed determined and tried to take the ball earlier in the second and third sets ... so she didn’t have any opportunity to attack.”
Up next for two-times US Open finalist Wozniacki will be in-form Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who beat Belgian qualifier Kirsten Flipkens earlier on Thursday to advance.
Townsend finds secret to success at the net in Halep upset
American qualifier Taylor Townsend took a nothing-to-lose attitude into her US Open clash with Simona Halep and quickly found her comfort zone at the net to pull off the upset of the week.
Townsend, who failed to win a set in three previous meetings with Halep, delivered an aggressive, net-rushing style of play that frustrated the Romanian fourth seed and secured her first career win over a top 10 player.
“I feel like a lot of the times when I was playing her, I played, like, not to lose. A player like that, she’s just way too solid, has had so much experience, that’s not going to fly,” Townsend said, after her 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) victory.
Up next for Townsend in her first third round appearance at the US Open, will be another Romanian, Sorana Cirstea, who beat Spain’s Aliona Bolsova earlier on Thursday.
“I was just, like, ‘what do you have to lose?’ I’m just going to go for it, I’m going to do what I do best where I’m the most comfortable, which is at the net.”
Townsend made a second home at the net, which she approached a staggering 106 times during the match to come away with 64 of those points.
Halep, who arrived at Flushing Meadows looking to become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2012 to follow a Wimbledon win with a US Open triumph, grew more frustrated as she was unable to come up with the necessary passing shots.
She managed to break Townsend and force a tiebreaker but the 23-year-old American held steady and sealed the deal on her third match point when the Romanian sent a backhand into the net.
Townsend said her decision to dedicate herself to play at the net against was not a last-minute adjustment to her game plan but rather something she has always done.
World No. 88 Petkovic upsets sixth seed Petra Kvitova
Andrea Petkovic upset sixth seed Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-4 to set up a third-round clash with Elise Mertens.
World number 88 Petkovic was the better player in the biggest points, breaking the twice Grand Slam champion three times and committing 15 fewer unforced errors on a sun-soaked Louis Armstrong Stadium court.
The 31-year-old German, who celebrated the win by lifting her shirt and pointing to her abs, said she is in a great state of mind despite winning only eight main-draw matches this year.
Petkovic will be the underdog again when she takes on 25th seeded Mertens, who trounced Kristyna Pliskova 6-2, 6-2.
"In the past two weeks I've been really good with my mental state," Petkovic said.
"I've been trying to stay in the moment and play point by point, enjoy the time I get to spend on this beautiful court and it's been really working for me, so I'm glad.
"There were ups and downs throughout the match but I was there in the most important moments."
She tipped her hat to the Czech, who has been hampered this summer by a left forearm injury.
"Petra is one of my favourite players and people on Tour," she said. "It's always so tough when I play against her and I'm so happy."
Zverev outlasts Tiafoe in scorching five-setter
Sixth seed Alexander Zverev outlasted Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 in the second round on Thursday, as he continued to put his disappointing Wimbledon behind him and enhance his reputation as one of the sport's best young players.
Zverev, who suffered a shock first-round defeat at the All-England Tennis Club last month, showed off his trademark endurance under the blistering sun on Arthur Ashe Stadium, saving eight of the 11 break points Tiafoe created on the German's serve.
Zverev, who fired down 22 aces, appeared exhausted after a match lasting more than three hours.
"Frances gave me an unbelievable fight," said Zverev. "I’m just happy to get the win somehow. Sometimes I would like to win easier than always five sets."
The 22-year-old German was no stranger to his American opponent, leading him 3-1 in previous meetings, after they competed together in juniors competition.
Osaka stays calm to see off Linette
Naomi Osaka continued her bid for a second straight US Open title with a business-like 6-3, 6-4 win over Magda Linette on Thursday to book her place in the third round.
After struggling with nerves in her gruelling first-round match, Osaka was calm and collected on Louis Armstrong Stadium court, smacking 13 winners and playing stout defence to dispatch Poland's Linette.
Next up for Osaka is either qualifier Timea Babos or 15-year-old American wildcard Coco Gauff.
After a one-sided first set, trouble brewed for the world number one when Linette raced out to a 3-0 lead in the second on a sun-soaked court.
But the 21-year-old Japanese kept her composure and battled back, hitting a deft volley on match point to seal the win before an adoring crowd including former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick and former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant.
"Going into this match I was very calm, because I was thinking there is no way my nerves could be worse than they were the day before," Osaka told reporters.
"For me, I also had that comfortably of knowing I have played Magda before. I've never played (first-round opponent Anna) Blinkova before, so there is also that added stress not knowing what she can do.
"For me, that stress was taken away today, because I have played Magda in Australia most recently, which was a hard court.
"So, yeah, I came in pretty confident with my abilities, and I think that showed a little bit."
Gauff battles past Babos
Crowd-pleasing teenager Cori 'Coco' Gauff came through a tough battle with qualifier Timea Babos, winning 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to set up a third round clash against top seed and defending champion Osaka.
The 15-year-old American phenom was forced to dig deep to become the youngest player since Anna Kournikova in 1996 to reach the third round of the women’s singles at Flushing Meadows.
“I was tested a lot. I think we both were just testing each other,” Gauff said. “It’s just that type of match where anyone could have won.”
Gauff rode into this year’s tournament with enormous expectations after a dream run at Wimbledon where she beat five-times champion Venus Williams on her way to the fourth round.
A fired up Gauff prevailed after a 12-stroke rally late in the third set to set up a break point opportunity, pumping her fists wildly and shouting in excitement in front of a packed crowd that was firmly on her side.
The pair seemed nearly evenly matched, with wildcard Gauff maintaining a slightly tighter performance and committing 34 unforced errors compared to 42 from Hungarian Babos.
Gauff will face off against 21-year-old Osaka, who also holds the Australian Open title, in the third round of the tournament on Saturday for a clash that may provide a glimpse at the future of the women’s game.
Medvedev overcomes cramps and Dellien resistance
Daniil Medvedev fought off cramps under the piercing sun to beat Hugo Dellien 6-3, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 and clinch a third-round berth at the US Open, continuing his hot run of form over the last month.
The 23-year-old fired down 17 aces and 55 winners, dominating the shorter rallies, but struggled late in the third set, handing Dellien a break and 6-5 lead with a double fault.
After returning Dellien's serve at set point, Medvedev wandered off the side of the court, raised his arms and flicked his hands in resignation as the 84th ranked Bolivian fired off a forehand winner.
The fifth seed, who arrived in Flushing Meadows on a high after winning his first Masters series title at Cincinnati, said afterwards that he had struggled with cramps during the latter part of the match.
"I honestly don’t know how I (won)," Medvedev said. "At one moment in the match I thought ‘Okay, I cannot move anymore'."
Medvedev also cramped up when he was on the brink of sealing the title in the Cincinnati final against David Goffin two weeks ago, on that occasion reeling off a string of aces to secure the win.
Nadal gets walkover into third round
Three-times champion Rafael Nadal got a walkover into the third round after Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis withdrew from their evening match on Thursday.
Kokkinakis, whose clash with the Spanish second seed was scheduled to close out the Thursday night session at Arthur Ashe Stadium, withdrew with a right shoulder injury, tournament organisers said.
The 23-year-old Australian, who has struggled badly with injury in recent years, beat Bulgarian qualifier Ilya Ivashka in his opening match this week and was seeking his first appearance in the US Open third round.
Nadal will now face the winner of Thursday's clash between fellow-Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, the 32nd seed, or South Korean Chung Hyeon.