Also, in action yesterday were four of Osaka’s fellow Grand Slam champions, one of them a past winner here.
The top eight seeds in action in the day prior each faced trouble, dropping their respective first sets of the tournament but those in action today were more routine.
Four seeds, however, were shown the exit, bringing the total tally to six as of the second round’s conclusion, with the first top-10 seeded casualty recorded.
All top eight seeds in action march into third round
Osaka, a perfect 10 for 10 in matches this year, besides riding a 21-match winning streak of her own too, looked troubled early on in her opener against Ajla Tomljanovic.
The Japanese player, who scooped her second Australian Open title last month, took on an Aussie opponent, falling behind a break 2-3 after trading breaks with her Aussie opponent to start off the match,
Clinging on to this lead, Tomljanovic survived her next two service games, both going to deuce, and having need to save a break point in the latter, thus finding herself up 5-3, a game away from putting this set in the books.
Osaka then responded with force, surrendering just one point in the next two games to level the score at five games apiece, with the set eventually going to a tiebreak, where she faced no issue closing out, serving an ace to set up three set points and taking the first of those chances handily, forcing a backhand error from Tomljanovic at the net.
The first eight games of the second set all went to the server, although both women did have a total of break chances between them but none were converted.
An untimely double fault in the ninth game, on the Tomljanovic serve handed Osaka the decisive break but did not have things her way while serving it out, a double fault of her own handing the Aussie a chance to break back.
Tomljanovic was denied that opportunity as the Japanese woman zoned in to take the last three points, and the match, 7-6(3), 6-4, after an hour and 41 minutes on court.
Fourth seed and home star Sofia Kenin took the court later in the day, opening the night session on Grandstand, but was made to work harder than Osaka here.
Facing German veteran in Andrea Petkovic, both women were contesting their first match since the Australian summer early last month.
The American, who had to undergo an appendectomy procedure a month back, and like Osaka, was taken to a tiebreak in the first set but faced the opposite outcome.
The next two sets were more routine as Kenin needed just 69 minutes in this space to seal the comeback win, gathering enough pace to see off the German for the 100th tour-level win of her career.
Other top eight seeds in action Friday are sixth seed Karolina Pliskova, who dropped three games, and saved four of five break points en route to a routine 74-minute demolition of China’s Zheng Saisai, in the day’s second match on Butch Buchholz.
Also on the same court, later in the day, an eighth-seeded Bianca Andreescu, like Osaka, turned things around a slow start to take out the Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova with a score of 7-6(5), 6-2.
Anisimova and Pegula keep American hopes alive
In what is the second all-American clash in this year’s draw, 28th seed Amanda Anisimova went up against former champion Sloane Stephens.
Stephens, fresh from her first win off the season over Oceane Dodin at the first hurdle, was looking to record consecutive wins for the first time since the fall of 2019 at the Wuhan Open.
The younger Anisimova, however, was the more steady of the pair, breaking the more experienced Stephens five times en route to a 6-3, 6-3 win, setting up an all-youngster clash against Andreescu next.
Joining Anisimova in the next round is the in-form Jessica Pegula, seeded 29th, who fought off a challenge from Australia’s Storm Sanders 6-3, 6-4 for her first ever win of the tournament, earning herself another rematch against Pliskova in what will be the pair’s third meeting of 2021.
Muguruza continues winning ways, Bertens struggles for form
Another of 2021’s in-form players, two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza, continued her stellar 2021 with the Spaniard needing 65 minutes to move past Chinese youngster Wang Xinyu 6-4, 6-1, in a dominant display of serve.
Returning from an Achilles surgery in Dubai last month, 10th seed Kiki Bertens’ early season struggle continued as the Dutchwoman was handed her third consecutive straight-set defeat, this time by Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova in 55 minutes, the Russian having not faced a single break point all match, and almost doubling her opponent in total points won.
Three other seeds joined Bertens in the sidelines, 13th seed Jennifer Brady becoming the first seeded casualty on Butch Buchholz, succumbing to Guadalajara winner Sara Sorribes Tormo from a set up.
20th seed Petra Martic was dismissed by Russian wildcard Anna Kalinskaya in a deciding tiebreak, while 26th seed Yulia Putintseva crashed out in the hands of Serbian qualifier Nina Stojanovic despite having a 7-5, 5-2 lead, and two match points two games down the road.
The first weekend of this year’s tournament offers a slate of mouth-watering matchups. On Grandstand, two all-seeded last 32 clashes see familiar foes go head-to-head, namely, 14th seed Victoria Azarenka, due to make her 2021 tournament debut here after receiving a walkover in the prior round, and 24th seed Angelique Kerber.
Meanwhile, ninth seed Petra Kvitova and 18th seed Johanna Konta will close out proceedings for the day on Grandstand, the pair’s sixth meeting, and first on American soil since the 2015 US Open fourth round which Kvitova won in straight sets to reach her first quarterfinal there.
Top-ranked Ashleigh Barty takes on Jelena Ostapenko in a battle of former French Open champions, first up on Grandstand while on Court 1, other top eight seeds in Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka will do battle with Russian oppositions in 30th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova and 32nd seed Veronika Kudermetova, respectively.