Naomi Osaka sets up US Open third-round clash with Coco Gauff as Colin Kaepernick and Kobe Bryant cheer on defending champion in routine win
- Naomi Osaka overcame Magda Linette 6-2, 6-4 to reach the US Open third round
- Champion had star power of Colin Kaepernick and Kobe Bryant cheering
- Osaka will now take on American teen sensation Coco Gauff in her next match
Naomi Osaka smacked a forehand winner into the open court, bringing Colin Kaepernick and Kobe Bryant to their feet in applause.
Osaka has power in her strokes and star power in her corner.
The defending US Open champion moved into the third round Thursday with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Magda Linette, setting up a possible third-round showdown with Coco Gauff.
Naomi Osaka has advanced to the third round of the US Open with a straight sets win
Colin Kaepernick (top centre) and Kobe Bryant (bottom centre) both cheered her on
With Kaepernick and Bryant sitting with her team just a few rows off the Louis Armstrong Stadium court, Osaka did her part and waited to see if the 15-year-old Gauff would win her match.
‘For me, when I hear people talking about someone, I want to have the opportunity to play them just to assess it for myself,’ Osaka said.
Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who three years ago began kneeling during the national anthem before games, has been working out in the area in hopes of getting another shot in the NFL. Bryant, the retired NBA superstar, came to the US Open to promote a new book ‘Legacy and the Queen’ that he conceived and that Osaka has supported.
Osaka said on Thursday it was the first time she’d met Kaepernick, though she has developed a friendship with Bryant.
Osaka will now play rising star Coco Gauff in a fascinating third round encounter
‘It’s just funny to me,’ Osaka said. ‘You know, like, last year compared to this year there is no way, like, Kobe would sit in my box. Yeah, Kaepernick, too.’
Osaka was grateful for their attendance, she said, and motivated to win quickly so she wouldn’t keep them in the sun too long watching.
The No 1 seed gave them plenty to cheer along the way, especially the forehand winner on break point that gave her a 4-3 lead in the second set after Linette had grabbed the first three games.
Gauff was scheduled to face qualifier Timea Babos in the lead-off night match on Armstrong, where she picked up her first US Open main-draw victory Tuesday against Anastasia Potapova, coming from behind just as she kept doing during her run to the fourth round of Wimbledon in July.
‘It’s amazing at that age,’ Bryant said. ‘Not just the skills she possesses, but the poise.’
While Osaka moved on, another two-time Grand Slam champion was eliminated when No 6 Petra Kvitova was upset by Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-4. Wimbledon champion Simona Halep tried to avoid falling when she played Thursday afternoon.
Petra Kvitova was upset by Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-4 and will play no further part
Rafael Nadal and his upset-filled bottom half of the men’s draw were in action Thursday, along with a number of matches that were postponed a day by the rain that wrecked most of Wednesday’s schedule.
No 5 Daniil Medvedev and No 6 Alexander Zverev avoided the upsets that have already taken out half of the top 12 seeds on the men’s side. Medvedev beat Hugo Dellien 6-3, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3. Zverev outlasted Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted 3 hours, 9 minutes.
Other early winners included No 15 Bianca Andreescu, No 16 Johanna Konta and No 20 Sofia Kenin, who all won in straight sets. No 12 Anastasija Sevastova, a semifinalist last year in Flushing Meadows, rallied to beat Iga Swiatek in three sets.