New York | Konta and Osaka in; Kvitova out
The rain clouds were banished by a glorious sun on Day 4 in New York, which saw the US Open playing catch-up as the delayed 2nd round matches were completed
Once I adapted to her game I think the match-ups worked in my favour. I played the game a little bit better. It's never easy - she's a great player Jo Konta
.Some players were in a hurry, such Naomi Osaka, the defending champion and World No 1, who advanced to the third round with an emphatic 6-2 6-4 defeat over Magda Linette from Poland, in front of a packed crowd in sun-drenched Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Except for a brief lull at the start of the second set, and despite not playing close to her best, Osaka was in control throughout, especially effective with her inside-out forehand and frequently wrong-footing the 27-year-old veteran.
The 21-year-old Japanese, also the reigning Australian Open champion, will next face either US 15-year-old Coco Gauff, the World No 140, who reached the fourth round in July at Wimbledon, or 112th-ranked Hungarian qualifier Timea Babos.
Linette broke Osaka in the 2nd game of the second set and leaped ahead 3-0 before the top seed rallied to capture 6 of the last 7 games and close out the match in 71 minutes.
“I’m really happy to not have to play a three-set match,” Osaka said.
Among the celebrities watching her match at Louis Armstrong Stadium were retired NBA star Kobe Bryant and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling protest became a national symbol for objecting to racial inequality and social injustice.
“I’m really grateful they came out,” Osaka said. “It’s really cool. I honestly just wanted to finish as fast as possible because I didn’t want them to be out in the sun too long.”
Osaka thanked the supportive crowd, saying: “You guys were really nice to me. It gives me a lot of energy and makes it so much more fun.”
Britain’s Johanna Konta was also in a hurry, storming past Gasparyan into US Open third round and hitting 22 winners in under an hour in the process.
The No 16 seed made short work of of the Russian, with a comfortable 6-1 6-0 victory to continue her bubbly start to the 2019 US Open.
Having progressed past the first round of the competition for the first time since 2016 with a strong win over Daria Kasatkina, the British No 1 raised her level again as she bids to reach her third consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final, and the first in her career at Flushing Meadows.
After the 28-year-old shook off some early nerves, it was one-way traffic as she won 12 straight games to seal victory in just 56 minutes against the WTA World No 61, who was outgunned 24 winners to 3.
The players exchanged service holds in the opening 2 games, but over these 13 minutes Konta was forced to fend off a break point, the only one she faced in the whole match.
Having steeled herself with this hold, she stormed through the Russian’s next service game, claiming it to love, and thereafter dominated the remainder of the match in a comprehensive and measured style.
While Konta was robust on serve, she was devastating facing the delivery of her opponent.
Gasparyan would win a pitiful 11% of points on her second serve over the course of a first set in which she did not hit a single winner.
Much of this, however, owed to the excellence coming from Konta’s racket at the other end of the court.
Konta’s victory was worth the long wait for the Briton after the rain chaos, although the 3-time Grand Slam semi-finalist did actually make it on to court on Wednesday before going back off again without a ball being hit.
Konta said it meant she had a near 11-hour day at Flushing Meadows after arriving at 8:30am and not leaving until about 7pm once the day’s play was cancelled.
Perhaps that motivated the Briton to race through the match once she gained the advantage against the 24-year Russian, who is ranked 61st after being 370th at this stage last year.
Effectively, Gasparyan won the first game on her serve before Konta rattled off the next 12 to win the second quickest completed match at the tournament.
“It’s never straightforward and they were tricky conditions,” Konta admitted.
“Once I adapted to her game I think the match-ups worked in my favour. I played the game a little bit better. It’s never easy – she’s a great player.
“I’m pleased to have come through. Even if it was a 3-hour match and 3 sets, I would have been pleased with that too.”
Konta will play either China’s 33rd seed Shuai Zhang or Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova as she bids to equal her best performance of reaching the 4th round in New York.
The Brit finished the opener with 12 winners to 10 unforced errors, while converting 3 of 4 break points.
If Konta had allowed Kasatkina back into her first-round match with a sloppy second set after a similarly strong start, it was immediately evident that she was not prepared to make the same mistake twice.
Against an opponent she had never faced before, she turned the screw, retaining a strong level of controlled aggression as she quickly racked up a couple of breaks.
It was not so for Czech 6th seed Petra Kvitova, who is out of the US Open after losing 6-4 6-4 to World No 88, Germany’s Andrea Petkovic in the second round.
The two-time Wimbledon champion, who has been struggling with a forearm injury, was broken in the 10th game as the German, 31, took the opening set.
She was a break up in the second set before Petkovic broke twice more en route to sealing victory.
The German veteran danced on the court in delight as she upset Kvitova for a place in the third round of the US Open.
Petkovic won the last 4 games from 4-2 down against the 2-time Wimbledon champion to mark only the 2nd tournament of the year in which she has won 2 main draw matches.
The former top 10 player has slipped to an 88 ranking, but has traditionally played well against Kvitova, who has rarely played lately owing to forearm injury problems.
Petkovic had also won their previous duel at the 2018 Australian Open and leads their series 6-5.
“I feel so happy. Petra is one of my favourite players. It was a crazy end,” Petkovic said on-court after fist-pumping and dancing when she clinched victory on Kvitova’s miscued overhead shot.
“I had some ups and downs, but was there in the most important moments.”
Kvitova is the highest women’s seed to bow out in New York so far, at the start of a busy day with 55 men’s and women’s second-round matches after rain led to the postponement of 23 matches on Wednesday.
Petkovic will now play either Belgian Elise Mertens or Kristyna Pliskova.
Elsewhere, Ukrainian 32nd seed Dayana Yastremska beat Swede Rebecca Peterson 6-4 6-1 to set up a third-round meeting with compatriot and 5th seed Elina Svitolina, while Greece’s Maria Sakkari took 3 sets to see off Shuai Peng from China, 6-7(5) 6-4 6-2, and next takes on 2nd-seeded Ash Barty in the third round.