Dan Evans claimed US Open schedulers gave Roger Federer a helping hand after the weary Briton bowed out of Flushing Meadows on Friday.

Midweek rain delays meant Evans played his second-round match against Lucas Pouille a day later than planned, eventually beating the French 25th seed on Thursday. 

Federer, in contrast, got his match out of the way on Wednesday, meaning he had ample preparation time. The 20-time grand slam winner duly swept past Evans, inflicting a 6-2 6-2 6-1 whipping on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 29-year-old British player had hoped for longer to recover, rather than being handed a slot at 12:00 local time (16:00 GMT) for his clash with the five-time US Open winner.

But Federer angrily rejected any suggestion he demanded a midday start, saying it was nonsense to think he calls the shots. He was so riled that, unusually for the Swiss, he used an expletive in his post-match news conference.

"These guys, the tournament obviously want Roger... would rather Roger be going through that match than me, so it's understandable," Evans told the media.

Evans scoffed when asked whether he or Leon Smith, the Great Britain Davis Cup captain who has been working closely with him, had requested a more suitable start time.

"You think a guy who has my ranking has any say in that?" said the world number 58. "There is probably about four people in this tournament who has a say when they play. Maybe three."

Evans - who admitted Federer played "no-error tennis" - found some sympathy from his opponent.

Federer said: "You could definitely argue that the scheduling was not in his favour. I understand if Danny is a little bit frustrated."

But the 38-year-old stressed he had not attempted to gain any pre-match advantage with the schedule, saying: "I don't remember that I asked for something. I definitely didn't do it intentionally. I don't even know if the team asked for day [rather than night session]. I know there was questions to have a preference.

"But that doesn't mean like, 'Roger asks, Roger gets'.

"Just remember that, because I have heard this s*** too often now. I'm sick and tired of it, that apparently I call the shots. The tournament and the TV stations do.

"We can give our opinion. That's what we do. But I'm still going to walk out even if they schedule me at 04:00 in the morning."

Serena Williams avoided any issues against the dangerous Karolina Muchova on Friday to ease through to the US Open fourth round.

Muchova beat Garbine Muguruza en route to the third round at Flushing Meadows last year and added to the scalp of Karolina Pliskova to her resume in reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals this year.

However, Williams never looked in danger of suffering a similar shock at Arthur Ashe Stadium, requiring only 75 minutes to wrap up a 6-3 6-2 victory.

The 37-year-old dropped a set against Caty McNally in the second round, but an ominous run of seven successive games helped her seal a win that sets up a clash with Petra Martic next.

Faced with an opponent she had not played before, Williams was visibly and audibly engaged in the contest from the start but needed until the seventh game to break when Muchova fired long.

She then held after going down 40-15 in the subsequent game, before winning her fourth game in a row – a run that secured the set - with a vicious forehand return.

Her punishment of the Muchova serve continued in the second to seemingly put the contest in little doubt, but Muchova rallied and cut a 3-0 deficit to 3-2 as Williams sliced an attempted backhand volley into the net.

Williams' response was immediate and her celebration emphatic as the Muchova serve was broken again after the Czech could only meet a running backhand with a volley into the net.

The 23-time major champion subsequently held and a fast-fading Muchova duly surrendered as an overhit forehand wrapped up a routine triumph for the eighth seed.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Serena Williams [8] bt Karolina Muchova 6-3, 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 20/15
Muchova – 17/22

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 5/7
Muchova – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 5/8
Muchova – 1/3

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Williams – 57
Muchova –53

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Williams – 67/61
Muchova – 55/35

TOTAL POINTS
Williams – 64
Muchova – 44

Roger Federer brushed aside Dan Evans in straight sets to march into the fourth round of the US Open.

The 20-time grand slam champion has struggled to find his best tennis in the early rounds at Flushing Meadows, dropping sets against qualifier Sumit Nagal and Damir Dzumhur.

Federer was in complete control from start to finish on Friday, however, with Evans providing little resistance as the Swiss eased to a 6-2 6-2 6-1 win in one hour and 20 minutes.

The lack of a real challenge from Evans meant Federer never had to hit top form, and he will hope for a similarly routine affair in the last 16 against either David Goffin or Pablo Carreno Busta.

Evans was under pressure as early as the fourth game but saved three break points to come from 0-40 down and hold.

He could not produce similar heroics two games later, however, a whipped cross-court forehand giving Federer the break, with a second arriving when Evans fired long to concede the opening set.

Federer needed only 27 minutes to take the second by the same scoreline, hitting 20 winners in the process.

Evans' frustration got the better of him at the end of the second, as he was given a code violation for smashing his racquet on his bench.

He was at least able to channel that emotion into a break back after going 2-0 down in third, but a double fault saw him immediately surrender the initiative once more.

Another double fault made it 5-1 to Federer and a one-sided contest was brought to an end when a tame backhand landed wide.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Roger Federer [3] bt Dan Evans 6-2 6-2 6-1

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Federer – 48/19
Evans – 7/14

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Federer – 10/1
Evans – 0/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Federer – 7/14
Evans – 1/2

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Federer – 66
Evans – 51

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Federer – 80/71
Evans – 41/39

TOTAL POINTS
Federer – 87
Evans – 41

Coco Gauff defeating defending US Open champion Naomi Osaka would be bad for tennis, according to John McEnroe.

Fifteen-year-old Gauff set up a mouth-watering clash with world number one Osaka by winning a thriller with Timea Babos on Thursday.

Having made it to the fourth round of Wimbledon as a qualifier, beating Venus Williams in the process, Gauff has become the story of the first week of a grand slam for the second successive major.

She will face Osaka, a player who has also experienced great success at a young age, with the Japanese winning two slams by the age of 21, on Saturday.

But McEnroe, a three-time Wimbledon champion and four-time US Open winner, believes a victory over the top player on the planet would do more harm than good.

He told ESPN: "I hope she doesn't beat Osaka, I think it would be a little too much, too soon.

"Osaka is someone who's teetering with her confidence, she's injured. However, she's the defending champion. I don't think it would be great for women's sports.

"I think it would be too much for Coco, right here at this age, it wouldn't be a good sign for the sport if a 15-year-old is beating the defending US Open champion."

Drawing parallels between Gauff's rapid progress and his own run to the Wimbledon semi-finals as an 18-year-old, McEnroe added: "I played [Jimmy] Connors in the semis and I was happy I lost.

"I felt like things happened so fast, it allowed me a year to reflect. That was big for me."

However, McEnroe continues to be blown away by Gauff's powers of resilience, with both her matches at Flushing Meadows this week having gone the distance.

"At 15, the way she keeps battling and is able to utlilise whatever resources are necessary, including the crowd, is very impressive," he said. 

"Babos tried to break her down physically, she's 15, she should break down physically in a two-and-a-half-hour match.

"The fact that she's as fit as she is and can cover the court but mentally to be just as strong is an amazing quality, that's why I said the other day I think she's going to be the best player in the world in three or four years."

Rafael Nadal had the easiest progress into round three of the US Open, but a host of his rivals in the men's singles had to come through marathons on Thursday.

Nadal was awarded a walkover as Thanasi Kokkinakis withdrew from their second-round encounter at Flushing Meadows in New York.

As 18-time grand slam champion Nadal was able to get some valuable rest, Alexander Zverev needed five sets to see off a spirited effort from Frances Tiafoe.

Daniil Medvedev required four sets against Hugo Dellien to keep his title hopes alive as a host of other matches went the distance, including Hyeon Chung's battle with Fernando Verdasco.

Chung came from two sets down and 5-2 down in the fifth to defeat Verdasco, saving a match point to book a meeting with a refreshed Nadal.

Marin Cilic – the 2014 champion – moved on to Arthur Ashe Stadium because of Kokkinakis' withdrawal and defeated Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 4-6 6-3 7-5 6-3.

 

TOUGH LUCK FOR TIAFOE

Tiafoe has developed an unfortunate habit for losing five-setters, and he was on the wrong end of a topsy-turvy affair with sixth seed Zverev.

German Zverev came through 6-3 3-6 6-2 2-6 6-3, leaving Tiafoe to bemoan another marathon effort in vain, having also lost to Fabio Fognini in five sets at Wimbledon.

Asked to summarise his grand slam year, Australian Open quarter-finalist Tiafoe said: "Paris, unfortunately got sick there. Then I lose to Fabio in five. I lose to Zverev in five. You tell me how that feels. It's tough."

Zverev next faces Aljaz Bedene – a five-set victor over Benoit Paire. Alexander Bublik, Kamil Majchrzak and Paolo Lorenzi all won after going the distance.

Lorenzi latter's clash with Miomir Kecmanovic lasted four hours, 48 minutes and the Italian now has to gather what energy he has left ahead of Friday's meeting with 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka, who defeated Jeremy Chardy 6-4 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 6-3.

Wawrinka and Lorenzi's match precedes Medvedev facing Feliciano Lopez, who came from a set down to beat Yoshihito Nishioka 6-7 (7-9) 6-0 6-4 6-4.


DUBIOUS REWARDS FOR EVANS & KUDLA 

Dan Evans and Denis Kudla each knocked out seeds in Lucas Pouille and Dusan Lajovic, and both received dubious rewards for their performances.

Evans will have a tight turnaround to face third seed Roger Federer on Friday, while home hope Kudla will take on defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic.

John Isner enjoyed a straightforward win over Jan-Lennard Struff, Gael Monfils also enjoyed serene progress against Marius Copil as he set up a match with Denis Shapovalov, while David Goffin eased past Gregoire Barrere 6-2 6-2 6-2.

Next up for Goffin is Pablo Carreno Busta after the 2017 semi-finalist beat Ricardas Berankis 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 6-0.


AUSSIES ON SONG

Nick Kyrgios had no problems against Antoine Hoang, winning 6-4 6-2 6-4 to secure a third-round clash with Andrey Rublev, the beneficiary of a walkover after one set with Gilles Simon.

Fellow Australians Alex de Minaur and Alexei Popyrin were also triumphant, though Jordan Thompson lost to Matteo Berrettini.

Kyrgios expressed no surprise at the success of his compatriots. He told a media conference: "De Min, I never expect anything less from him, he's an absolute warrior. He can beat a lot of good players.

"When I see him progressing through a draw, I know it's a nightmare for anyone who comes across him.

"Obviously Popyrin had a pretty good win today. Kukushkin is a savvy veteran. I'm not surprised when those guys win matches at all. They're capable of doing some big things."

Coco Gauff felt like she was the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals when she heard her named chanted by the Louis Armstrong crowd in Thursday's US Open second-round win over Timea Babos.

Teenage sensation Gauff was again responsible for a thrilling contest at Flushing Meadows, where the 15-year-old American outlasted Babos 6-2 4-6 6-4.

Gauff prevailed after a frenetic two hours, 23 minutes, during which the vociferous crowd frequently led 'Coco' chants as she set up a clash with defending champion and world number one Naomi Osaka.

Gauff conceded she was taken aback by the level of support received, telling a media conference: "For me it's still wild. This is the first time -- well, not the first time. The first round was the first time I actually had a chant, but today it was a lot louder and a little more consistent.

"I was thinking like maybe they feel like I'm Golden State in Game 7 or something. It's different because you're an individual player, so it's weird, I guess.

"Most of the time you hear the chants, it's for a whole team, not just for, like, me. So it was pretty cool."

Gauff saw her friend and doubles partner Caty McNally take a set off Serena Williams on Wednesday, while Taylor Townsend headlined Thursday's results with a stunning comeback against fourth seed Simona Halep.

Asked if she and McNally are inspiring each other now, Gauff replied: "Yeah, for sure. I remember in Midland she won her first pro title. I lost second round that tournament. She kind of inspired me, like, okay, it's possible to do well, I think, just in general, not just me and Caty but all the young Americans.

"I saw Taylor won today. I think we're all just kind of pushing each other. Obviously when we play against each other, we don't want the other person to win. But literally when we're playing someone else, we root for each other."

Gauff plays doubles with McNally on Friday and feels that match may aid her preparations for two-time grand slam champion Osaka.

"For me, doubles isn't a problem. I mean, juniors, I played doubles a lot of the times, almost every tournament if I can get into doubles, I'm playing it," said Gauff. 

"To me it helps because it's a different game. I guess you get to work on volleys, you get to work on your returns a lot in doubles.

"I think that's actually going to prepare me for Naomi, because doubles to me is more faster paced than singles. Naomi actually hits the ball pretty hard. I think it will prepare me well for Saturday's match."

Simona Halep suffered a huge shock at the US Open at the hands of Taylor Townsend as Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka booked a mouth-watering third-round clash in New York.

Halep had been considered one of the favourites for the women's singles title but saw a one-set lead snatched away by Townsend, who produced a thrilling comeback to claim the biggest win of her career on Thursday.

Townsend will face another Romanian, Sorana Cirstea, next but the match of the third round pits defending champion and world number one Osaka against 15-year-old Gauff, who once again delighted the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd by winning a brutal battle with Timea Babos in two hours, 23 minutes.

She becomes the youngest woman to reach round three since 1996 will face a champion in fine form after Osaka made short work of Magda Linette as her defence continued at pace.

Osaka's hopes of retaining the crown have been boosted by Halep's exit, and sixth seed Petra Kvitova has also been removed as a potential obstacle after her loss to Andrea Petkovic.

 

HALEP SHORT ON INSPIRATION

Townsend came to the net over 100 times against Halep, an aggressive tactic that worked superbly in her stunning 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) comeback.

Halep, though, felt a difference in inspiration levels was key. She told a media conference: "She was very inspired of every ball. She came a lot to the net and didn't miss much. It's unbelievable.

"I was not inspired at all today, but I fought. I thought when I came back that I will take it and I will win it. But sometimes it goes the other way."

Kvitova was also left to reflect on what might have been after her 6-4 6-4 defeat to Petkovic, while ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka was knocked out 6-3 7-6 (7-3) by Yulia Putintseva, who followed up her Wimbledon win over Osaka to knock out a top-10 seed for the second straight slam.

Seventh seed Kiki Bertens, however, is through after a 7-5 6-4 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Belinda Bencic and Anastasija Sevastova were three-set winners over Alize Cornet and Iga Swiatek respectively and Johanna Konta thrashed Margarita Gasparyan 6-1 6-0.


HOME HOPES SPRING ETERNAL

Townsend's success was the headline act of a day defined by victories for young Americans on the women's side.

It was Gauff, though, who closed out the day's action and did so in typically engrossing fashion. The teenager again went the distance and willed her way to a 6-2 4-6 6-4 triumph, showcasing her incredible movement, repertoire of shots and composure to a raucous home crowd.

Sofia Kenin dished out a bagel in her 7-6 (7-4) 6-0 win over Laura Siegemund, while Kristie Ahn needed eight match points to complete her 6-2 6-3 defeat of Anna Kalinskaya.

Danielle Collins threatened an upset against two-time Flushing Meadows finalist Caroline Wozniacki, but eventually went down 4-6 6-3 6-4 as the 2018 Australian Open champion set up a match with another of the game's brightest talents, Bianca Andreescu, who beat Kirsten Flipkens 6-3 7-5.

"I kind of know what to expect if I play her. I know that she's an incredible fighter," Andreescu said of Wozniacki. "She runs every ball down, and I know that it's not going to be easy. I'm just going to go out there and play my game."

 

BENCIC ASKS QUESTIONS OF VEKIC

Donna Vekic had to wait for the reporters to be ready for her in the media room after her 7-5 6-3 victory over Kaia Kanepi, giving Bencic the chance to put her through her paces in an impromptu interview.

The Croatian has plenty of reasons to be cheerful after reaching the third round in New York for only the second time.

Joining her in round three is Karolina Muchova, who eliminated 29th seed Hsieh Su-Wei 6-1 4-6 7-6 (7-2) but will now have to recover quickly as she faces 23-time grand slam winner Serena Williams on Friday.

Maria Sakkari will have a similarly quick turnaround in facing second seed Ashleigh Barty after overcoming Peng Shuai 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-2.

Elsewhere in the draw, Wang Qiang overcame Alison van Uytvanck, Anett Kontaveit fought back against Ajla Tomljanovic and Elise Mertens, Petra Martic and Julia Goerges were also victorious. 

Taylor Townsend believes her stunning second-round US Open victory over Simona Halep was a "monumental moment" in proving to herself that she belongs on the biggest stage.

Townsend came from a set down to produce a thrilling comeback and eliminate the Wimbledon champion 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 23-year-old qualifier, once a world number one in the junior ranks, has faced criticism over her inability to progress from that point.

Townsend suffered a heart-breaking defeat to Kiki Bertens at Wimbledon, spurning match point with a poor drop shot, and was visibly emotional after claiming her third match point against fourth seed Halep to earn the biggest win of her career.

"Just to be able to get over the hump, it's such an amazing feeling because, like, I mean, after Wimbledon, I was devastated after I lost to Bertens after having a match point," Townsend told a media conference. "That, like, woke me up out of my sleep. Oh, drop shot.

"I put my head down and just worked really hard and just tried to take the positives away from it, just continue to press forward. I think for so long that's been kind of my whole thing, is just continue to press forward and just realise that I belong on this level. I've had a lot of people doubting me being able to break through, quote unquote.

"It's just confirmation more for myself that I'm on the right path, doing the right things. You keep your head down and keep working and you see what happens.

"I just feel like this was a huge, monumental moment. It was a very defining moment for me to realise that I belong here."

Afterwards Halep revealed Townsend had asked her for advice after the Romanian emphatically beat her in Miami.

"My heart was beating through my chest when I talked to her because I'm not that kind of person at all. That's just not anything that I would do," Townsend said of their conversation.

"She gave me some good advice. Honestly, she didn't really tell me anything I didn't know, but it was good to hear it from another player, someone I just played, played a couple of times. Especially someone who is at such a high level, has accomplished so much.

"I don't know why I did it, but I did it. It kind of stuck with me. I'm not saying that everything she said I implemented into my training, but it was definitely in the back of my head to remember what she said and also remember why I asked, what drove me to ask that question, kind of that hunger and desire to get better."

"I think I kind of turned that into more of a positive to say, Hey, you can continue to learn and grow."

Naomi Osaka's straight-sets victory over Magda Linette at the US Open was partially motivated by a desire to keep Kobe Bryant and Colin Kaepernick out of the sun.

Five-time NBA champion Bryant and former San Francisco 49ers star Kaepernick, whose activism has effectively ended his NFL career but seen him become one of the world's most influential athletes, were sat in Osaka's box on Thursday as she overcame Linette 6-2 6-4.

Osaka had to work harder in her first-round match, in which she came from a set down to defeat Anna Blinkova 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 in New York.

The top seed wrapped things up in much shorter order to reach round three, helping her famous fans beat the heat in the process at Flushing Meadows.

Asked if she felt added pressure having Bryant and Kaepernick in her box, Osaka told a media conference: "I don't feel like it's pressure, but I do feel like I did want to play well.

"I don't know. It's just funny to me. You know, like, last year compared to this year there is no way, like, Kobe would sit in my box. Yeah, Kaepernick, too. It's just crazy who you run into in life.

"For me, it wasn't pressure. It was just like I really didn't want them to sit in the sun too long, honestly. That was the thing that was on my mind. I was, like, I don't really want to play a third set."

On the advice Bryant gives her, she added: "Everybody knows Kobe gives me real-life advice. He's someone I look up to as an athlete and also as a person.

"I'm really grateful that I even have the opportunity to, like, talk to him and stuff."

Rafael Nadal received a walkover into round three of the US Open after Thanasi Kokkinakis withdrew from their second-round match.

Spanish star Nadal – the second seed – was due to close out Thursday's evening session against Kokkinakis on Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.

However, the 18-time grand slam champion will now be able to rest ahead of his third-round encounter after Kokkinakis was forced to end his participation in the tournament.

Marin Cilic's match with Cedrik-Marcel Stebe has been moved from Louis Armstrong to Ashe to fill the void.

Nadal will face either Fernando Verdasco or Hyeon Chung in the third round at Flushing Meadows as the 33-year-old eyes a fourth US Open title.

Andy Murray said he was suffering from cramp and fatigue following his last-16 loss to world number 240 Matteo Viola at the Rafa Nadal Open.

Former world number one and three-time grand slam champion Murray struggled physically as he went down 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) at the ATP Challenger event in Mallorca on Thursday.

Murray dropped down to the Challenger Tour for the first time since 2005 in a bid to improve his fitness following hip resurfacing surgery in January, which threatened to end his stellar career.

After blitzing teenager Imran Sibille and overcoming third seed Norbert Gombos, the 32-year-old Murray succumbed to Viola in a third-set tie-break.

"I'm cramping. Very tired," said Murray, who required a medical timeout midway through the third set, after almost three hours on court.

"I would have liked to have played more matches but it was good. I played two competitive matches. Physically I need to get better."

Murray is featuring on the Challenger Tour for the first time in 14 years.

The Brit started a singles comeback at ATP Masters 1000 tournament the Western & Southern Open before making a swift exit from the Winston-Salem Open.

Murray – who played a series of high-profile doubles tournaments after teaming up with Serena Williams in the mixed event at Wimbledon – then opted to skip the US Open in New York.

Taylor Townsend pulled off the biggest shock of the US Open as she came from a set down to stun fourth seed Simona Halep in the second round.

Wimbledon champion Halep was expected to have few problems against the qualifier and world number 116, but was on the end of a remarkable comeback as Townsend prevailed 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) on Thursday.

Halep took the first set in dominant fashion, but Townsend found inspiration in the second set and brought the Arthur Ashe crowd to life in New York.

The former girls number one demonstrated outstanding reflexes at the net and took the contest to Halep as she set up a decider.

Townsend has to this point been unable to deliver on the potential she displayed as a junior, but she continued on the attack and punished the Halep second serve, breaking to love in game five.

Having only once previously reached the third round of a grand slam, any nerves on Townsend's part would have been understandable.

They promptly showed up as she let three match points go begging when serving for the match as Halep found her best tennis in the closing moments.

However, Halep wasted a match point of her own, setting up a frenetic tie-break that was settled when the Romanian fired into the net to an eruption from the home crowd as an emotional Townsend raised her arms and celebrated the biggest win of her career.

 

Petra Kvitova conceded she might have returned too early from the arm injury that kept her out of the French Open, as her grand slam season ended with a second-round defeat to Andrea Petkovic at the US Open.

The two-time Wimbledon champion reached the final at the Australian Open this year before being forced to pull out of Roland Garros in May.

Kvitova did not play any further tournaments prior to Wimbledon, where she reached the fourth round before losing to Johanna Konta.

The world number six was undone at Flushing Meadows by a player she has consistently had problems with, Petkovic going 6-5 up in the career head-to-head with Kvitova by condemning her to a 6-4 6-4 defeat.

Kvitova revealed she has swelling on her arm but said the mental pain of skipping Wimbledon would have been more troubling than a physical complaint.

"Maybe I should take one more week before Wimby, but that means I'm going to skip Wimby, which, you know, on the mental side would be much tougher, I think," Kvitova told a news conference.

"Maybe the arm would be much better right now, but I didn't feel any pain. It's just getting swollen, which means something is there but I don't know what is there."

On her performance against Petkovic, Kvitova added: "I don't think I played that badly. I did have my chances, for sure, but somehow I just couldn't make it."

Asked to assess her performances in majors this year, the Czech left-hander said: "Overall I'm pretty happy, for sure. I had to withdraw from the French Open, which wasn't really a nice thing but that happens in the tennis career, so I'm taking it.

"I reached the final of the Australian Open, definitely the highlight of it. I could have missed Wimbledon but I was able to play and reached a good result over there. Overall, I think it was OK."

Naomi Osaka moved into round three of the US Open with a straight-sets win over in-form Magda Linette, but she did not have it all her own way.

Reigning champion Osaka was taken the distance by Anna Blinkova in her opener on Tuesday but avoided a repeat after reeling off five straight games to come from behind in the second set and triumph 6-2 6-4.

The world number one will face the winner of the encounter between teenage sensation Coco Gauff and Timea Babos in the third round.

Osaka was forced to retire from her Western & Southern Open quarter-final against Sofia Kenin due to a knee injury and admitted after overcoming Blinkova she did not feel at her best.

However, she started strongly at Louis Armstrong Stadium on Thursday, not dropping a single point in her first two service games and then breaking to love.

The two-time major champion rallied from 40-0 down in game seven to earn a double break and promptly wrapped up a commanding first set.

Linette - who was on a nine-match winning streak that included clinching a first WTA Tour title at the Bronx Open - won against serve when Osaka buried a shot in the net early in the second and the Japanese was fortunate her opponent failed to repeat a stunning forehand down the line for a 4-0 advantage.

Osaka heeded the warning and came straight back, regaining her rhythm and surging into a potential blockbuster against Gauff that would delight the fans at Flushing Meadows.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Naomi Osaka [1] bt Magda Linette 6-2 6-4

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Osaka – 13/19
Linette – 10/20

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Osaka – 2/3
Linette – 2/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Osaka – 4/6
Linette – 1/4

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Osaka – 46
Linette – 55

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Osaka – 83/59
Linette – 55/50

TOTAL POINTS
Osaka – 60
Linette – 43

Kobe Bryant believes avoiding off-court distractions will be crucial for Coco Gauff after the teenager's stunning start to her career.

Gauff reached the fourth round at Wimbledon, beating her idol Venus Williams on day one of the tournament, before losing to Simona Halep.

She came back from a set down to defeat Anastasia Potapova in the first round at the US Open and was heading into a clash with Timea Babos on Thursday.

The expectations around the 15-year-old will only continue to rise and five-time NBA champion Bryant, who entered the league as an 18-year-old straight out of high school, expects her biggest challenges to come off the court.

"It's amazing at that age, not just the skill set she possesses, but dropping the first set [against Potapova], able to maintain her cool, maintain her composure, not get rattled, she goes out and performs," Bryant said at Flushing Meadows, where he was planning to take in Gauff's second-round clash.

"It's very, very rare to find an athlete at that age to be so trusting of your skill and be patient. She's a phenomenon for sure.

"It's the things that come along with the success at an early age, more commitments, more responsibilities, more opportunities, especially off the court. But you have to pick and choose and weave the way through that, so none of those things get in the way of her continuing to develop as an athlete.

"The hardest thing is knowing what to say no to, so that it doesn't compromise her progress as a player."

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