Belinda Bencic produced a stunning performance to end Naomi Osaka's title defence at the US Open in the fourth round and bring her stint at the top of the world rankings to a close. 

Osaka won plaudits for her class on and off the court in the third round, persuading an emotional Coco Gauff to do a joint interview in front of the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd after her straight-sets win over the 15-year-old American.

As a result she had plenty of backing under the roof of the same arena, but that did not inspire her to victory in the face of a magnificent showing from Bencic.

The Swiss had won her two previous meetings with Osaka, defeating her in Indian Wells and Madrid. Having had the benefit of Anett Kontaveit's withdrawal from her third-round tie, Bencic continued her hoodoo over the Japanese in fine style.

She completed a 7-5 6-4 triumph in one hour and 27 minutes, reaching only her second grand slam quarter-final with a win that ensures Ashleigh Barty will replace Osaka at the top of the WTA rankings.

Bencic quickly hit the ground running and opened up a 2-0 lead in the first set, only for Osaka to reel off three straight games.

Any thought that normal service had been resumed proved misguided, however, and Bencic struck again as she nailed a passing shot to break before wrapping up the set when Osaka returned a serve out wide into the net.

The world number 12 did a tremendous job of extending the rallies and brought up triple break point in the fifth game of the second with another astonishing pass at the end of a remarkable rally.

Osaka subsequently sent down a double fault and then called for the trainer. She carried on but was unable to make the inroads needed to restore parity as Bencic secured arguably the biggest win of her career, celebrating arms aloft as her opponent directed a tame off-balance forehand into the net.

Bencic will next face Donna Vekic, who overcame Julia Goerges in three sets, in a match between two players looking to reach the semi-final of a slam for the first time.

Competing at the scene of her traumatic maiden grand slam triumph in front of a crowd predictably and passionately backing a star American opponent, it would have been easy for Naomi Osaka to crumble in the third round of the US Open.

The defending champion and world number one had all the pressure on her shoulders in Saturday's blockbuster clash with 15-year-old Coco Gauff, who comparatively had nothing to lose after again capturing the sporting world's imagination with two thrilling wins.

Rather than wilting at the venue where she had been left in tears 12 months ago, Osaka rose to the occasion in stunning style, delivering a show of class on and off the court that should secure her place as a favourite in the hearts and minds of fans, as well as a frontrunner for the title.

From the start, Osaka played with confidence and ruthlessness, racing into a 3-0 lead. Rather than being overawed by the stage, she rose to it with the enthusiasm of a player with two major titles to her name.

Gauff threatened a comeback as the teenager found her footing, but she was never able to locate the consistency needed to restore parity against a player operating at Osaka's level.

After clinching the opening set, Osaka was relentless, refusing to let up as she condemned Gauff to a bagel in the second.

Osaka got 91 per cent of returns in play, converted six of her seven break points and hit 24 winners to Gauff's eight.

Pirouetting as she won one point to set up a break chance, Osaka operated with more freedom as Gauff faded and the gulf in experience and quality became more telling.

Yet nothing Osaka produced on the court could top what she did after the match, as she persuaded a tearful Gauff into staying behind to be interviewed alongside her in front of the packed crowd.

Both players ended up reduced to tears, but those shed will be remembered as part of one of the indelible moments of US Open history. A marked contrast to those Osaka wept last year as Serena Williams' row with umpire Carlos Ramos overshadowed what should have been the greatest night of the Japanese's career.

Gauff could not have been more appreciative of the gesture, and summed up Osaka's evening on and off the court perfectly.

"For me the definition of an athlete is someone who on the court treats you like your worst enemy but off the court can be your best friend," Gauff said. "I think that's what she did."

Discussion over Osaka's slightly withdrawn nature and lack of comfort in the spotlight has been a prominent feature of her rise to the top of the women's game.

Now the focus has been shifted to her capacity for empathy and her sportsmanship, though Osaka appeared to indicate she would still rather not be the subject of such attention.

Asked if the tennis world needs more "Naomi moments", Osaka replied: "I don't know what a Naomi moment is. Hopefully there won't be many of those. Yeah, whatever I do, I try to tell myself to just do it from the heart."

If she maintains the kind of form she demonstrated on Saturday, there is a strong chance the next Naomi moment will be her lifting the trophy.

Following her wonderful display of compassion for Gauff, the New York crowd that booed as she collected the trophy last year will surely this time be on her side should she prevail again.

Serena Williams suffered an injury scare as she progressed to the last eight of the US Open with a straight-sets win over Petra Martic.

Though she was broken early in the match, Williams never really looked troubled by Martic as she won her 99th match at the US Open.

That tally is her most at a grand slam, but the 23-time major winner's triumph was not without drama as she rolled her ankle in the second set when going to the net.

Williams had to take a medical timeout but said she felt "good" afterwards, and her spirits will likely have been boosted by the exits of Ashleigh Barty and Karolina Pliskova.

BARTY PUTS IT IN PERSPECTIVE

Barty was stunned by Wang Qiang in her fourth-round clash, the second seed making 39 unforced errors in a highly disappointing display.

Wang claimed a 6-2 6-4 win, denying Barty the chance to play Williams in the quarter-finals, but the French Open champion was able to look back on her grand slam season with satisfaction.

"We've had a great season in grand slams for singles. We've made the second week every single one, which has been really special," Barty told a media conference.

"Now we'll sit back, reflect, and look forward to a big couple months to finish off the year."

DOUBLE CELEBRATION FOR SVITOLINA

Elina Svitolina, meanwhile, saw off American Madison Keys in straight sets.

Svitolina is in a relationship with Gael Monfils, who watched on in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Monfils turned 33 on Sunday, and Svitolina revealed she was inspired by playing on his birthday.

"It's his birthday, I was trying to be really focused on my match but it was extra motivation for me," Svitolina told ESPN on court afterwards.

 

LAST EIGHT IS GREAT FOR KONTA

Johanna Konta outlasted third seed Pliskova in an engrossing match on Louis Armstrong, producing a fine comeback to prevail 6-7 (1-7) 6-3 7-5.

It means the Briton has now reached the last eight of every slam in her career.

Konta is also the first British woman to reach this stage at the US Open since Jo Durie in 1983.

"I'm really pleased [with that achievement]," Konta said at a media conference. 

"I think for me more on a personal level to be able to have made it to the quarters for my third slam in a row, I think that's a really, really big achievement for me. So I'm really pleased with that."

Serena Williams and her coach Patrick Mouratoglou moved to allay fears over her right ankle after she turned it during her US Open win over Petra Martic.

Williams moved into the last eight, where she will face Wang Qiang, with a 6-3 6-4 defeat of the 22nd seed at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Though she won in relatively comfortable fashion, there was significant concern in the second set as Williams called for the trainer after rolling her ankle when going to the net for a volley. 

Asked how she felt in a post-match media conference, Williams replied: "Ankle, I usually know if it's horrible early on. I mean, I had a really bad ankle sprain in January.

"I was like, instantly, 'No, this can't happen. I'm finally healthy'.

"But I'll see tomorrow. So far I'm good. I have been managing it. We'll see tomorrow [Monday]."

Mouratoglou echoed Williams' assessment of the injury, though he also indicated they will have to wait to have a full understanding of her condition.

He said: "There is the video, but what is more important is how she feels and how the ankle looks.

"The ankle looks okay. She doesn't feel much pain. It's acceptable. And we will know tomorrow when it's going to be cold."

Williams did not call for the trainer when she injured her ankle in the final set of her Australian Open loss to Karolina Pliskova and was quizzed on whether that influenced a more cautious approach this time around.

"I definitely wanted to have a better plan. I probably should have seen a trainer in Australia," she added.

"I definitely thought about that, because I was, like I said, the first thing was I'm finally healthy. The last thing I want is to have another bad ankle sprain.

"So I just wanted to get some compression on it and tape it even stronger and that way I can at least try to finish the match."

Serena Williams suffered a worrying injury scare as she overcame Petra Martic to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open for the 16th time.

Last year's runner-up in the women's singles, who has endured a number of fitness issues in 2019, rolled her right ankle in the second set inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday.

The painful-looking incident did not prevent Williams from winning the next two points to break serve, and she duly completed a 6-3 6-4 victory after undergoing treatment during a medical timeout.

However, it remains to be seen whether the six-time US Open champion will be fully fit for her last-eight match against Wang Qiang on Tuesday, when she will seek to record a 100th match win at Flushing Meadows.

Martic, the 22nd seed, showcased plenty of imagination and shot-making ability on a rare show-court outing, but the underdog understandably struggled to handle her opponent's power and appeared to lose her focus after Williams' slip at the net.

Williams, who turns 38 later this month and first won the title at Flushing Meadows 20 years ago, certainly did not have things all her own way in the opening set.

However, after being broken from 40-0 up in the opening game, the veteran gradually seized control, her relentlessly aggressive approach reaping rewards.

Having moved 5-3 up when Martic stumbled on the baseline, a fired-up Williams had to save two break points before she took a leaf out of the Croatian's book with a drop-shot winner that sealed the set.

At that point, things looked routine for the eighth seed, but her subsequent fall sparked a dramatic change of atmosphere inside Ashe, with Williams immediately looking downcast as she got back to her feat.

"It affected me a little mentally," said the home favourite in her on-court interview. Nevertheless, she won the next two points to break and looked to be moving well as she wrapped up victory after heavy strapping was applied to her right foot.

Williams, whose win came two years to the day after the birth of her daughter, will now hope the slip leaves no lasting impact as she continues her latest bid to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam singles titles.

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Serena Williams [8] bt Petra Martic [22] 6-3 6-4

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams - 38/19
Martic - 11/12

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams - 4/3
Martic - 2/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams - 3/8
Martic - 1/3

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Williams - 63
Martic - 62

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Williams - 79/55
Martic - 60/46

TOTAL POINTS
Williams - 73
Martic - 56

Ashleigh Barty crashed out of the US Open in the fourth round as she suffered a straight-sets defeat to Wang Qiang at Flushing Meadows.

French Open champion Barty had the chance to set up a mouth-watering quarter-final clash against Serena Williams with victory at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

However, the second seed was well below her best in a 6-2 6-4 defeat marked by 39 unforced errors.

Wang, meanwhile, displayed impressive character in reaching her first grand slam quarter-final.

She saved four break points in a 10-minute game to hold for 5-3 in the second set and was required to hold off two more as she successfully served out the win in an hour and 22 minutes.

"I'm very focused on court, I just tried to hit aggressive," 18th seed Wang told ESPN on court afterwards.

Asked if she would be doing her homework by watching Williams' clash with Petra Martic, Wang said: "I think that's my coach's homework. I just want to enjoy now."

Teenager Coco Gauff thanked "class act" Naomi Osaka for her support after the defending US Open champion saw off the young sensation at Flushing Meadows.

Osaka marched on into the fourth round in New York with a 6-3 6-0 victory over the 15-year-old Gauff, who rose to prominence with a remarkable fourth-round showing at Wimbledon.

A packed crowd witnessed the action at Arthur Ashe Stadium, as Gauff's run in her home grand slam was ended in the third round.

After eliminating arguably the star of the first week of the tournament, Osaka swayed an emotional Gauff into joining her for the post-match on-court interview.

World number one Osaka told reporters in a news conference that the decision was an instinctive one.

"I wanted her to have her head high, not walk off the court sad. I want her to be aware that she's accomplished so much and she's still so young," Osaka said.

The 21-year-old later tweeted a photo of herself and Gauff shaking hands, captioning the post: "Keep your head up, you’ve got so much to be proud of. Warrior."

Demonstrating the bond between the pair, Gauff replied with a tweet of her own.

"Thank you! You are a class act. I appreciate your support" Gauff posted, before further confirming her admiration for Osaka by labelling her as a role model.

Swiss player Belinda Bencic awaits Osaka in the last 16.

Coco Gauff felt world number one Naomi Osaka proved she is a true athlete with her conduct after their US Open encounter.

Defending champion Osaka needed only 65 minutes to see off 15-year-old Gauff 6-3 6-0 in Saturday's highly anticipated contest.

Osaka silenced a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd with a ruthless performance to progress to the last 16 at Flushing Meadows.

However, she had the crowd on their feet after the match, as she persuaded a tearful Gauff to stay on the court so they could conduct a post-match interview together.

The pair were each reduced to tears as they spoke in front of a packed stadium that rose to acclaim for two players sure to be superstars of women's tennis for a long time to come.

Gauff was effusive in her praise of Osaka afterwards, telling reporters: "I think she just proved that she's a true athlete.

"For me the definition of an athlete is someone who on the court treats you like your worst enemy but off the court can be your best friend. I think that's what she did tonight.

"I definitely was wanting to leave the court because I'm not the type of person who wants to cry in front of everyone. I didn't want to take that moment away from her, as well.

"She told me it's better than crying in the shower. She convinced me, like, multiple times to stay. I kept saying no. Finally I said, Okay, I'll do it. Because I didn't know what to do.

"I'm happy that she kind of convinced me to do it because, I mean, I'm not used to crying in front of everyone.

"But I think she really showed sportsmanship tonight. I mean, I wasn't expecting it. I'm glad that I was able to experience that moment. I'm glad the crowd was kind of helping me and her.

"She was crying, she won. I was crying. Everybody was crying. But I think it was a good moment for both of us.

"I'm glad that I was able to express that moment. I guess it shows that I'm human. I guess athletes in general just experience things, and we show emotion, good and bad.

"I think a lot of people see the more pumping up side of me, the more fiery side. I guess that side is good for other people to see.

"I'm glad I was able to experience that on the biggest stage. Maybe next time I'll have a different result. I really thank Naomi for that because it was a good moment for me."

Gauff expects the experience of a heavy defeat to be beneficial as she plots a route to reaching the same heights as two-time grand slam champion Osaka.

"I think I'll learn a lot from this match. She's the number one player in the world right now, so I know what I need to do to get to that level," Gauff added.

"She was really attacking the ball well. She hit a lot of winners today. I didn't hit as many as I can. I think that I can trust my strokes more.

"I think she trusts her strokes a lot, so that's why she hits winners. In order to hit a winner, you have to trust that you're going to do it. I think I can work on that more.

"Other than that, I mean, I think my first serve, I could get it in more today. I was having trouble holding serve. I think once I get past that hump, I'll start to improve a lot more."

A desire for Coco Gauff to leave the court with her head held high was behind Naomi Osaka's decision to persuade the 15-year-old to stay for an interview after their US Open encounter.

Defending champion Osaka cruised to a 6-3 6-0 win over the teenager in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd, ending Gauff's memorable run at her home grand slam on Saturday.

However, even as Osaka eliminated the star of the first week of the tournament, the world number one won the hearts of the spectators when she was able to sway a tearful Gauff into joining her for the post-match interview.

They were each subsequently reduced to tears but received a huge ovation from the fans in an indelible moment in the history of the tournament.

Asked in her post-match media conference if her decision to have a joint-interview was instinctive, Osaka replied; "It was kind of instinctive because when I shook her hand, I saw that she was kind of tearing up a little. Then it reminded me how young she was.

"For me, at least when I lose, I just come into the locker room and I cry, then I do press, like, here. I love you guys, but it's not the greatest.

"Then I was thinking normal people don't actually watch the press conferences unless they're, like, fan fans.

"The people that are out there, they're probably going to just stay and watch the next person who's playing, then they go home, and they wouldn't know immediately what's on her mind.

"I was just thinking it would be nice for her to address the people that came and watched her play. They were cheering for her. Yeah, I mean, for me, it was just something that was, I don't know, instinctive I guess.

"For me, I just thought about what I wanted her to feel leaving the court. I wanted her to have her head high, not walk off the court sad. I want her to be aware that she's accomplished so much and she's still so young.

"I know that you guys are kind of coming at her with love, too. But I feel like the amount of media on her right now is kind of insane for her age. I just want her to, like, take care of herself."

Osaka said she was the most focused she had been since her victory at the Australian Open, and her performance reflected that.

She started the match by racing into a 3-0 lead and, after surviving a Gauff revival, never let up in dishing out a bagel in the second set.

Quizzed as to how far she is from being at a level where she can win the slam again, Osaka replied: "The thing with me, though, is I get better as the tournament goes on.

"It's not even a skill sort of thing, it's just I trust myself more."

Osaka will look to make further strides when she faces Belinda Bencic in the last 16.

Those who were hoping for Coco Gauff to deliver another thriller in her match with Naomi Osaka were left disappointed, but they did witness the most touching moment of the US Open so far.

Defending champion and world number one Osaka proved too much for Gauff as she eased to a 6-3 6-0 win over the 15-year-old American in just 65 minutes on Saturday.

It was a hugely impressive performance from Osaka, but it was what she did after the match that earned her the most acclaim at Flushing Meadows.

Despite a tearful Gauff wanting to leave the court, Osaka persuaded the teenager to stay out there so they could do the on-court interview together.

Both were then reduced to tears as they spoke in front of the Arthur Ashe crowd, who treated them to a standing ovation.

Osaka will have won plenty more admirers with that sporting gesture and will next face Belinda Bencic, who received a walkover after Anett Kontaveit withdrew from their match due to illness, for a place in the last eight.

 

TOWNSEND'S PHONE OVERWHELMED BY TEXTS

Taylor Townsend looked in danger of falling flat after her remarkable comeback against Simona Halep, going a break down in the first set in her match with another Romanian, Sorana Cirstea.

However, Townsend fought back to take the first set and, after skipping a rope at the change of ends, produced a dominant second. 

Continuing her aggressive play from the win over fourth seed Halep, Townsend came to the net 75 times in securing a 7-5 6-2 victory.

Speaking to ESPN on court afterwards, Townsend told of the increased attention she has received since defeating Wimbledon champion Halep.

"I didn't know that many people had my phone number," Townsend said. "I got a lot of messages and my phone started dialling 911 by itself."

ANDREESCU KEEPS ASHE EMOTIONS IN CHECK

Next up for Townsend will be rising star Bianca Andreescu, who kept up her outstanding run of form by beating two-time US Open runner-up Wozniacki 6-4 6-4.

Canadian Andreescu has not lost a completed match since March, having won the Rogers Cup on her return from an injury that kept her out of Wimbledon.

But she had no shortage of nerves playing on Ashe for the first time in her fledgling career.

"I was, like, Oh, my God, is this actually happening right now? It's a dream come true, so I prepared myself really well," Andreescu said. "I handled my emotions well today."


AHN: "I'VE MADE IT"

Kristie Ahn had never gone beyond the first round of a slam before this week, now she can look forward to playing in the last 16 after a three-set win over Jelena Ostapenko.

Ahn survived an injury scare to beat former French Open champion Ostapenko 6-3 7-5 and was thrilled to finally be recognised by a passer-by at Flushing Meadows after initially being mistaken for Osaka.

The 27-year-old posted on Twitter: "Story time: Was walking back from my dubs match today and heard someone yell 'It's Naomi Osaka!' Everyone started cheering and then someone goes, 'No! That's Kristie Ahn!' Y'all...I've made it."

Standing in her way as she eyes the last eight is 25th seed Elise Mertens, who defeated Petra Kvitova's conqueror Andrea Petkovic 6-3 6-3.

Seventh seed Kiki Bertens was unable to improve on her best performance in New York as she was comfortably beaten 6-2 6-3 by Julia Goerges.

Naomi Osaka ended Coco Gauff's dream US Open run with an accomplished display to defeat the 15-year-old sensation 6-3 6-0.

After capturing the imagination of the tennis world by progressing to the fourth round of Wimbledon as the All England Club's youngest qualifier, Gauff captivated the home crowds at Flushing Meadows to reach the third round and set up a dream meeting with Osaka on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

However, defending champion and world number one Osaka was always going to present a significantly greater challenge than Anna Blinkova and Timea Babos.

While Gauff looked far from daunted by the occasion, she was unable to cut out the double faults and unforced errors that were a feature of her two engrossing victories, and Osaka was much more ruthless in punishing them.

While Osaka was not quite at her best but, at the scene of her maiden grand slam triumph that was marred by Serena Williams' dispute with umpire Carlos Ramos, she looked every inch a player ready to retain her crown in more fitting circumstances.

Osaka needed only 65 minutes to set up a meeting with 13th seed Belinda Bencic in the round of 16 in New York.

The 21-year-old set out her stall right from the off, a fantastic forehand winner helping her bring up break point in the second game, on which Gauff double-faulted.

Falling 3-0 behind seemed to spark Gauff into life, though both players struggled for consistency as the set ended with four breaks in the final six games.

Osaka did a tremendous job of stretching the parameters of Gauff's movement by working the angles magnificently, but she will have been frustrated by a series of sloppy games on serve.

That run was ended as she closed the set out and Osaka refused to take her foot of the gas as she dished out a bagel in the second.

Osaka used deep drop shots to get Gauff in trouble in the opening game of the second, the Japanese pirouetting in delight after she produced outstanding reflexes at the net to bring up break point.

Gauff promptly sent down another costly double fault and there was no way back for the American after Osaka held from 15-40 down and then broke again for a 3-0 lead. 

The teenager was unable to get on the board in the second, with that fact doing a disservice to the part she played in an absorbing, albeit one-sided contest, that will surely be just the first of many more battles to come.

Caroline Wozniacki compared Bianca Andreescu's game to that of Kim Clijsters after losing to the Canadian rising star in the third round of the US Open.

Andreescu has enjoyed a superb year on the WTA Tour, winning titles at Indian Wells and the Canadian Open.

Before the US Open her performances had not translated into grand slam success, as the 19-year-old reached the second round at the Australian Open and French Open and did not play at Wimbledon because of a shoulder injury that forced her to abandon her Roland Garros mission.

However, she was excellent in her 6-4 6-4 defeat of 2018 Australian Open champion Wozniacki, who sees plenty of similarites between the teenager and three-time US Open champion Clijsters.

"I think the one that I can most compare her game to would probably be Kim back in the day, Clijsters," Wozniacki told a media conference. "I think because she moves well and she can stretch out and get to some balls and also play aggressive and using the angles. Obviously she prefers the forehand just like Kim.

"But she can move around the backhand and put the angle on it, so I think if I were to kind of compare to someone I know, everyone has their own style, but for me, playing her, it brings me back a little bit to when I played Kim."

Told of that comparison, Andreescu said at her media conference: "I actually looked up to her [Clijsters] a lot while I was just coming up, when I started playing tennis.

"So that's really nice to hear from other players, because I think my game is pretty similar to hers. Not as good yet."

Wozniacki received treatment on her foot at the end of the first set but it did not appear to hinder her in a competitive second set.

The Dane alleviated any concerns over that injury but lamented a year in which she has consistently battled fitness problems.

On her foot, she said: "I think I just jammed it or did something like that. I'm not sure exactly. I went to the physio just to check it out. But it's okay. It's fine.

"Obviously it wasn't the best year for me, but really, there's nothing you can do when your body sometimes doesn't cooperate.

"At this point you just have to stay positive, and I'm going to go into Asia feeling like I can play some good tennis and pull off some good shots."

The 2019 film 'Diego Maradona', a documentary covering a period of the great Argentina footballer's life, brilliantly depicts the breathless intensity of life as a superstar.

Put together with behind-the-scenes Maradona footage from various sources in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the critically acclaimed picture portrays the fierce adoration of supporters, the media and more that built and broke the ex-Napoli forward.

Quite understandably, it seems everyone wanted a piece of El Diego. Quite understandably, it seems this took its toll.

THE SPOTLIGHT

Watching Coco Gauff in the aftermath of her second-round US Open win was initially adorable and then a little uncomfortable.

The 15-year-old, with five main-draw grand slam triumphs to her name already, was riding the crest of her very own wave, blushing as the crowd chanted her name and then giggling excitedly as she was reminded defending champion Naomi Osaka is up next.

It is customary for victors on the show courts to then stick around for a moment or two after the interviews to sign autographs and take pictures before quickly disappearing back to the dressing room.

Gauff went above and beyond for her fans as the camera lingered for several minutes. Teenage boys tussled over signed merchandise, others tripped over themselves to get involved in the scrum. Coco kept smiling, kept signing. Some supporters were polite and grateful, others appeared blunt and rude. Coco kept going.

Many children her age - Gauff has beaten Venus Williams but is still just a child - might be discouraged from speaking to strangers. With a security guard at her side, Coco had an army of them, like Maradona, wanting a piece of her.

THE HYPE

Even for a player long tipped for success as a junior, Gauff's introduction to women's tennis has been quite remarkable. Against Timea Babos, she showed her power, her devilish speed and a defensive showing Simona Halep would be proud of. There was nothing in her performance to suggest she cannot one day live up to the hype surrounding her.

That hype is considerable. Daniela Hantuchova, on Amazon's Flushing Meadows coverage, gushed as she assessed Gauff's display. This was a future multiple-major winner, she said. The first serve of Venus, the second serve of Serena. Wow.

Coco has been the name on everyone's lips since Wimbledon, where Serena, Roger Federer and the rest discussed her thrilling breakthrough. She traded messages with Michelle Obama. Kobe Bryant was in New York on Thursday and keen to take in the clash with Babos.

And the world's top tennis prospect has understandably capitalised on this attention as a no-doubt-lucrative New Balance deal has seen the player, her team and her family turn out in shirts and shoes adorning the slogan, "Win or lose, call me Coco". She is being readied to rule the world.

A young Maradona, likewise destined for the top, had a camera crew follow him around in the days before this was normal, recording footage intended to make him a movie star. Ultimately, this would form part of the film that concluded with the tale of his downfall.

THE WARNING

Gauff has dealt with her new status incredibly well and will, you would imagine, continue to do so as long as the coverage remains positive and she keeps performing far above the level ordinarily expected of a teenager. There appears no pressure at this stage as she defeats senior pro after senior pro.

Yet might Osaka, her next opponent, be able to offer a word of warning? The Japanese appeared at ease and content on the WTA Tour a year ago, steadily forging an impressive career but not yet a victim of the expectation that comes with success.

That all changed with victory first at the US Open and then in Melbourne. Osaka became world number one and initially hated it. "Mentally, it was way more stress and pressure than I could have imagined," she said. Sport can chew up and spit out even the most prodigious talent. 

Osaka should beat Gauff and so there will be no outrage if the American is undone. The biggest feel-good story in tennis will roll on and on, the hype growing and then eventually perhaps, too, the scrutiny.

Whether Coco reaches superstardom or falls some way short, her health and happiness must remain intact throughout her career. Others have not always found that to be the case.

Karolina Pliskova survived a scare to keep her US Open hopes alive, while Serena Williams cruised into the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.

Having seen Simona Halep stunningly undone by qualifier Taylor Townsend on Thursday, the fans at Flushing Meadows may have thought another shock was on the cards when Ons Jabeur took Pliskova to a decider.

However, the third seed rallied to reach the last 16, where she will meet Johanna Konta.

Williams enjoyed a more comfortable day at the office in seeing off Karolina Muchova in straight sets and will play Petra Martic after her win over Anastasija Sevastova.

Meanwhile, Madison Keys had her blood pressure taken in her straight-sets win over Sofia Kenin.

 

PLISKOVA NOT SATISFIED

It appeared to be plain sailing for Pliskova when she breezed to the first set 6-1 against world number 62 Jabeur.

However, the Tunisian fought to send the match to a third set, and Pliskova needed over two hours to come through a stern test 6-1 4-6 6-4.

Afterwards, the former world number one made it clear she was not satisfied with her performance.

"You know, just got in trouble maybe more because of me than her," Pliskova said.

"Of course her game is, once you're not feeling great and her game is not super nice to play because she plays kind of everything, I don't even know if she knows what she's playing, and yeah, then was quite difficult.

"In the end, good. It was big fight. Not for sure the best feeling but I won, which is good."

 

KEYS UNLOCKS KENIN

Tenth seed Keys looked set to claim a comfortable win over compatriot Kenin, serving eight aces to take the opening set in 27 minutes.

However, her hopes of returning to the final she reached in 2017 seemed in jeopardy when she had the blood pressure strap on her arm at 3-3 in the second.

Yet she was able to break for a 6-5 lead and withstood pressure from Kenin to serve out a 6-3 7-5 success and set up a fourth-round meeting with Elina Svitolina, who thrashed fellow Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska 6-2 6-0.

"Just not feeling 100 per cent tonight but really glad I was able to get through in two. It would have been a lot trickier if I had to play another set," Keys told ESPN on court afterwards.

KONTA RELISHING PLISKOVA REUNION

When Konta played Pliskova in Rome this year she was on the end of a 6-3 6-4 defeat. However, after thrashing Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-3, the Briton expressed excitement at the chance to avenge that loss.

"I am actually looking forward to seeing how I can do a bit better, how I can just maybe ask some better questions this time around," said Konta.

World number two Ashleigh Barty remains on course for an enticing quarter-final with Williams following her 7-5 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari.

She will next face Wang Qiang, who came back from 3-0 down in the first set to beat Fiona Ferro 7-6 (7-1) 6-3.

When Naomi Osaka takes on teenage sensation Coco Gauff in the tie of the third round at the US Open on Saturday, it will be impossible not to see the parallels between the two.

Following her victory in a brutal battle with Timea Babos on Thursday, John McEnroe was quick to warn how a Gauff triumph in the match everyone hoped to see may be too much, too soon for the 15-year-old sensation.

The rise of Osaka, and her subsequent struggles to deal with the spotlight that has arrived with becoming the world number one and winning two grand slams by the age of 21, may well be a reason why McEnroe made that claim.

Osaka has rarely looked comfortable in the media glare and, prior to the final major of the year at Flushing Meadows, conceded she has not had fun playing tennis since her success at the Australian Open.

The Japanese can see herself in Gauff, who is again the story of the first week of a grand slam having become the youngest woman to reach the third round of the US Open since 1996.

However, speaking after her routine win over Magda Linette on Thursday, Osaka pointed out a key difference between her and Gauff.

"Yeah, I mean, off the court she seems like me. Well, she seems a little bit more, like, she knows what she's doing," Osaka said. "I just mean, like, I'm very quiet. I've gotten actually a bit talkative recently, though.

"But, yeah, I saw her in the locker room. She wasn't really talking to anyone. I was like, 'Oh, looks familiar'. I'm just going to talk to her. I know she's super young, and I know it's sort of hard to transition.

"I wasn't even a junior, but I can only imagine as a junior you play these tournaments with your friends, and then you come to the pros and you don't know anyone.

"She's a really talented girl. I would love for her to come out of her shell a little bit. I just realise that's probably what people say about me, too."

Though based on her post-match demeanour, Osaka may be doing herself a disservice.

A comfortable win understandably changes the tone of a media conference for the better, but Osaka's light-hearted approach to proceedings - in which she cracked jokes about helping famous fans Kobe Bryant and Colin Kaepernick stay out of the sun - made for a striking contrast to how she has often dealt with the media.

Still, Osaka's praise of Gauff's composure is well-founded. On and off the court, the teenager never seems fazed by anything thrown in her direction, though she partially credits Osaka for giving her the belief she can beat the best on the biggest stage.

Asked what she can take from how Osaka has navigated early success, Gauff told a media conference: "I think she just made it, I guess, possible. 

"Last year, at the US Open, she wasn't really like a big contender. Obviously now this year she is. She had that amazing run, then the final. Honestly, I think she's a big inspiration for everyone. She's 21. She has two slams. She's still thriving for more.

"I think she's just a super-sweet person on and off the court. She competes great out there. I think she shows us how to compete and the way to, like, be off the court, too."

Competing with Osaka on the court will be the biggest challenge Gauff has faced so far. She fought extremely hard in her Wimbledon defeat to Simona Halep and will likely have to improve on that effort if she is to progress further in New York.

In terms of her overall poise, however, Gauff may actually be ahead of a world number one who is still finding her feet in dealing with the rigours that come with being at the top of the sport.

Too much, too soon? It remains to be seen. However, there can be no doubt Gauff has the temperament to handle the occasion in what will be the first of hopefully many enticing contests between two players set to dominate women's tennis.

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