Former World No. 1 Naomi Osaka fought hard to survive her third-round battle against Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk with a 6-3 6-7(4) 6-2 victory on Friday to enter the final 16 of the US Open. While it looked like the fourth-seeded Japanese would have a walk in the park against the 18-year-old Kostyuk, the teenager put up a valiant fight against Osaka to draw the match into grueling two hours and 33 minutes test.
After the match Osaka said, "She didn't back down from me or from, like, the speed of my ball, which for someone that young is kind of amazing, because I feel like, you know, the first set went that way, and then she could have faded in the second set."
Osaka's Injury Woes
The World No.10 said that the hamstring injury in her left leg—that was heavily taped—had not healed completely. The injury had led to her withdrawal from the Western & Southern Open Title last week.
"It could be better," Osaka said. "But I think for a three-set match, the amount of movement that I did, and the fact that I felt like I could have kept going if I really needed to, is definitely a good sign."
Kostyuk Claws Back
Osaka began the match with a commanding first set performance. However, the yo-yoing match that saw alternating fortunes, began shifting in Kostyuk's as the Ukrainian broke Osaka to inch ahead 4-3.
Though Kostyuk managed to consolidate the break, she dropped the next three games. She held serve to force a tie break. After dropping the first two points, the spirited teenager bagged seven of the next seven points, which frustrated Osaka enough to fling her racquet.
"Everything was going really well for her during the tiebreak," said Osaka. "She came to the net, and I hit it as hard as I could towards her, and she made it, and I was just, like, 'whoa, this is unbelievable'."
Osaka Holds On
After attaining a lead of 2-1 in the final set, the Kostyuk had to have her right ankle taped a second time during the match. However, the former US Open Champion relied on her experience to battle her heart out to save
When Kostyuk went ahead 2-1 in the final set, the Ukrainian had her right ankle taped for the second time in the match. Osaka relied on her experience to save five break points in a 14-point game. She scored 16 out of the next 19 to seal her hard-earned victory.
(With additional inputs from agencies)