Naomi Osaka came off the best victory of her career over Angelique Kerber in the first round of the US Open and she faced some problems trying to follow it up. Nonetheless, the young Japanese talent battled to a three-set victory over the dangerous Denisa Allertova, who put up a spirited display and pushed Osaka to the limit. Both players got themselves into trouble when nerves got the better of them, but in the end, it was the higher-ranked player who prevailed after an hour and 51 minutes of play.
Osaka strolls to clinch the first set 6-3
Osaka came into the match firing on all cylinders as she was clinical on her serve, putting in some strong deliveries to clinch a love service hold in the opening game. Allertova followed suit as the Japanese looked a little rusty on the return, with neither of them being able to make a breakthrough early in the set.
Osaka continued to dictate play with her powerful groundstrokes and her high first serve percentage certainly helped her to win eight straight points on her serve. The Czech was equally as dominant on her serve, with the power in her baseline game allowing her to control proceedings in her service games.
Some inconsistent play from Osaka saw her spray unforced errors to gift Allertova two break points but she managed to regain her composure at the crucial moments as the world number 45 narrowly held her serve for a 3-2 lead. However, the Czech was left trailing on the scoreboard when she threw in three double faults to gift Osaka the first break of serve in the match, allowing the Japanese to open up a 4-2 lead.
Osaka then easily consolidated the break as she sealed the service hold with an ace for a three-game advantage, playing some incredible offensive tennis to be just a game away from winning the first set. Allertova won herself a consolation game but was still unable to make a breakthrough on the return as Osaka’s serve was just too strong, comfortably serving out the first set 6-3 after 29 minutes of play.
Allertova storms back to take the second set 6-4
Allertova had a confidence-boosting service hold in the opening game of the second set as she came from 15-30 down to do so, looking determined to provide a tough fight. Nevertheless, Osaka still remained untouchable on her serve, holding her serve comfortably to level the scores at 1-1. However, an abundance of unforced errors soon started to plague the Japanese as she allowed Allertova to make the first breakthrough in the second set, taking a two-game lead. The Czech then consolidated the break to extend her lead, looking on course to send the match into a deciding set.
In a huge contrast compared to the first set, Allertova dictated play mostly and Osaka started to be frustrated with herself, with the underdog finding herself a game away from the deciding set at 5-2 up. Serving to stay in the set, Osaka recovered from a 15-30 deficit and served two aces to keep herself in contention for the straight-sets victory.
It was Allertova who served for the set next up, but nerves got to her as she wasted a set point only to get broken straight back for Osaka to return level on serve. However, the Japanese was unable to hold onto her serve as she started to spray the ball again, throwing in a double fault on the Czech’s second set point to level the match at one-set-all.
Osaka overcomes nerves and pressure to take the win
Osaka turned things in her favour at the start of the final set as she came up with all sorts of powerful returns, earning the momentum as she broke serve in the opening game. Allertova had the golden opportunity to break straight back but she was unable to find a break point as Osaka held firm, consolidating the break for a 2-0 lead early in the decider.
The Czech finally got onto the scoreboard in the final set with a spirited service hold but Osaka was determined to hold onto her lead, shouting “come on” on some crucial points she won. The win seemed to be heading towards the Japanese when she earned yet another break point but the fighting spirit of Allertova was clearly evident when she fought back to hold her serve narrowly with the help of a couple of unforced errors from her opponent. Having so much grit, Osaka powered herself to yet another service hold as she edged closer to the victory with Allertova continuing to find a breakthrough.
Osaka would have rued all her chances she missed to extend her lead as the Czech finally found the break back in the eighth game, taking advantage of Osaka’s errors to return level on the scoreboard at 4-all. However, Osaka was quick to regain her composure as she started to dominate play once again, coming up with the best reply possible as she broke straight back to love and earned the golden opportunity to serve out the match. Nerves seemed to have overwhelmed the young Japanese while serving out the match as she committed three consecutive unforced errors and allowed Allertova to get three break points, eventually getting broken straight back to return to square one.
It was a third consecutive break as this time it was Allertova who blinked when given the opportunity to take the lead, throwing in an unfortunate double fault and allowed Osaka to have a second chance to serve out the match. This time around, Osaka handled the pressure much better and played some clinical aggressive tennis to close out the tough win on a well-placed 116 mile-per-hour ace which clipped the line, clinching the hard-fought victory after an hour and 51 minutes of play.