Osaka foresees 'fun' rivalry with phenom Gauff

Coco Gauff felt world No. 1 Naomi Osaka proved she is a true athlete with her conduct after their U.S. Open encounter.

These are two of the most dynamic young players on tour at the moment and Saturday night's showdown at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the round of 32 might just be the start of a rivalry between the 15-year-old Gauff and Osaka, who is the grizzled veteran in this one at 21.

Osaka event went on to thank Gauff's parents, Corey and Candi Gauff, for raising such a great player and young woman, both of whom were in attendance at Arthur Ashe stadium in NY on Saturday night. Laurryen Lennon, a 12-year-old tennis player watching and crying at home in North Carolina, told USA Today she wished she could be with Gauff after the match.

Next for Osaka is Belinda Bencic, who advanced with a walkover after Anett Kontaveit withdrew from singles play with an acute viral illness.

"She was really attacking the ball well".

"For me, it's insane to me to see how far she's come in such a little amount of time", said Osaka.

Asked to assess her current level, she replied: "I mean, the last two times I was in the round of 16, I won it, if that answers - I don't want to say that".

"You guys raised an awesome player", Osaka said, before breaking down into tears herself.

"It was kind of instinctive because when I shook her hand, I saw that she was kind of tearing up a little".

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Gauff became the youngest woman to reach the third round of the US Open since 1991 on Saturday.

Nadal was forced to retire from his match against Juan Martin del Potro in last year's U.S. Open semifinals because of knee pain that has been an issue for the 33-year-old Spaniard on hard courts.

Gauff acknowledged feeling some jitters at the outset, and Osaka produced the match's initial seven winners.

It was not the first time Osaka has shown compassion in victory and after a heart-warming embrace at the net, she invited a tearful Gauff to speak to the crowd in a post-match interview.

Osaka said the match was one of her best since winning the Australian Open title. "She's so young. That's definitely going to happen", Osaka said.

And remaining humble, Osaka laughed when it was suggested she was a "mentor" before hugging Gauff as the American left the court. It was an excited audience, and it seemed to be largely behind Gauff - roars were heard every time she earned a point or closed out a game.

Bianca Andreescu, now a teen phenom herself, is Townsend's next challenger after the Canadian beat last year's Australian Open champion, Caroline Wozniacki, 6-4, 6-4. But I think it was a good moment for both of us.

Later, wildcard Ahn overcame a leg injury to down the error-strewn 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, 6-3, 7-5. "I thought I had to get going right off the bat". That includes her breakthrough in NY a year ago, when she outplayed Williams in a memorably chaotic final that ended with spectators booing and both women in tears after the 23-time major champion got into a lengthy dispute with the chair umpire. "I just, I would actually need to practice doubles for the first time in my life". So for me I would never judge a person, especially when I haven't walked in their shoes.

  • Lawrence Cooper