Karolina Pliskova survived a scare to keep her US Open hopes alive, while Serena Williams cruised into the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.

Having seen Simona Halep stunningly undone by qualifier Taylor Townsend on Thursday, the fans at Flushing Meadows may have thought another shock was on the cards when Ons Jabeur took Pliskova to a decider.

However, the third seed rallied to reach the last 16, where she will meet Johanna Konta.

Williams enjoyed a more comfortable day at the office in seeing off Karolina Muchova in straight sets and will play Petra Martic after her win over Anastasija Sevastova.

Meanwhile, Madison Keys had her blood pressure taken in her straight-sets win over Sofia Kenin.

 

PLISKOVA NOT SATISFIED

It appeared to be plain sailing for Pliskova when she breezed to the first set 6-1 against world number 62 Jabeur.

However, the Tunisian fought to send the match to a third set, and Pliskova needed over two hours to come through a stern test 6-1 4-6 6-4.

Afterwards, the former world number one made it clear she was not satisfied with her performance.

"You know, just got in trouble maybe more because of me than her," Pliskova said.

"Of course her game is, once you're not feeling great and her game is not super nice to play because she plays kind of everything, I don't even know if she knows what she's playing, and yeah, then was quite difficult.

"In the end, good. It was big fight. Not for sure the best feeling but I won, which is good."

 

KEYS UNLOCKS KENIN

Tenth seed Keys looked set to claim a comfortable win over compatriot Kenin, serving eight aces to take the opening set in 27 minutes.

However, her hopes of returning to the final she reached in 2017 seemed in jeopardy when she had the blood pressure strap on her arm at 3-3 in the second.

Yet she was able to break for a 6-5 lead and withstood pressure from Kenin to serve out a 6-3 7-5 success and set up a fourth-round meeting with Elina Svitolina, who thrashed fellow Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska 6-2 6-0.

"Just not feeling 100 per cent tonight but really glad I was able to get through in two. It would have been a lot trickier if I had to play another set," Keys told ESPN on court afterwards.

KONTA RELISHING PLISKOVA REUNION

When Konta played Pliskova in Rome this year she was on the end of a 6-3 6-4 defeat. However, after thrashing Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-3, the Briton expressed excitement at the chance to avenge that loss.

"I am actually looking forward to seeing how I can do a bit better, how I can just maybe ask some better questions this time around," said Konta.

World number two Ashleigh Barty remains on course for an enticing quarter-final with Williams following her 7-5 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari.

She will next face Wang Qiang, who came back from 3-0 down in the first set to beat Fiona Ferro 7-6 (7-1) 6-3.

When Naomi Osaka takes on teenage sensation Coco Gauff in the tie of the third round at the US Open on Saturday, it will be impossible not to see the parallels between the two.

Following her victory in a brutal battle with Timea Babos on Thursday, John McEnroe was quick to warn how a Gauff triumph in the match everyone hoped to see may be too much, too soon for the 15-year-old sensation.

The rise of Osaka, and her subsequent struggles to deal with the spotlight that has arrived with becoming the world number one and winning two grand slams by the age of 21, may well be a reason why McEnroe made that claim.

Osaka has rarely looked comfortable in the media glare and, prior to the final major of the year at Flushing Meadows, conceded she has not had fun playing tennis since her success at the Australian Open.

The Japanese can see herself in Gauff, who is again the story of the first week of a grand slam having become the youngest woman to reach the third round of the US Open since 1996.

However, speaking after her routine win over Magda Linette on Thursday, Osaka pointed out a key difference between her and Gauff.

"Yeah, I mean, off the court she seems like me. Well, she seems a little bit more, like, she knows what she's doing," Osaka said. "I just mean, like, I'm very quiet. I've gotten actually a bit talkative recently, though.

"But, yeah, I saw her in the locker room. She wasn't really talking to anyone. I was like, 'Oh, looks familiar'. I'm just going to talk to her. I know she's super young, and I know it's sort of hard to transition.

"I wasn't even a junior, but I can only imagine as a junior you play these tournaments with your friends, and then you come to the pros and you don't know anyone.

"She's a really talented girl. I would love for her to come out of her shell a little bit. I just realise that's probably what people say about me, too."

Though based on her post-match demeanour, Osaka may be doing herself a disservice.

A comfortable win understandably changes the tone of a media conference for the better, but Osaka's light-hearted approach to proceedings - in which she cracked jokes about helping famous fans Kobe Bryant and Colin Kaepernick stay out of the sun - made for a striking contrast to how she has often dealt with the media.

Still, Osaka's praise of Gauff's composure is well-founded. On and off the court, the teenager never seems fazed by anything thrown in her direction, though she partially credits Osaka for giving her the belief she can beat the best on the biggest stage.

Asked what she can take from how Osaka has navigated early success, Gauff told a media conference: "I think she just made it, I guess, possible. 

"Last year, at the US Open, she wasn't really like a big contender. Obviously now this year she is. She had that amazing run, then the final. Honestly, I think she's a big inspiration for everyone. She's 21. She has two slams. She's still thriving for more.

"I think she's just a super-sweet person on and off the court. She competes great out there. I think she shows us how to compete and the way to, like, be off the court, too."

Competing with Osaka on the court will be the biggest challenge Gauff has faced so far. She fought extremely hard in her Wimbledon defeat to Simona Halep and will likely have to improve on that effort if she is to progress further in New York.

In terms of her overall poise, however, Gauff may actually be ahead of a world number one who is still finding her feet in dealing with the rigours that come with being at the top of the sport.

Too much, too soon? It remains to be seen. However, there can be no doubt Gauff has the temperament to handle the occasion in what will be the first of hopefully many enticing contests between two players set to dominate women's tennis.

Serena Williams is excited to "be a fan girl" over the future of women's tennis when Naomi Osaka faces Coco Gauff in the third round of the US Open.

Williams booked her spot in the fourth round on Friday with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Karolina Muchova.

However, most of the talk in her post-match media conference was not about her routine win, but rather the blockbuster clash between world number one Osaka and 15-year-old Gauff.

Gauff, who reached the fourth round of Wimbledon as a qualifier, has seen her incredible rise continue at Flushing Meadows with three-set wins over Anastasia Potapova and Timea Babos.

A potential third-round meeting with defending champion Osaka was circled by many when the draw came out, and 23-time grand slam champion Williams is also relishing a contest between two players set to take on the mantle when she eventually ends her incredible career.

"I think it will be a really interesting match. I definitely am interested to watch," Williams said. "I think it's super exciting tennis. Coco is obviously much, much younger than Naomi, if you could say that, because Naomi is incredibly young. But it's shocking to say that Coco is about six years younger.

"I definitely think it's the future of women's tennis. And I'm really excited to just be a fan girl and kind of watch."

On the excitement Gauff has stirred, Williams added: "I think she's really pretty cool. I love her excitement on the court. I don't know what everyone else thinks. I can only tell you what I think.

"I'm a big fan of hers. I have said that since day one. I love her parents. I think she has a good family, and I think it starts there. It makes for a great athlete and a great person."

It has been an impressive tournament for young American players. In addition to Gauff's success, Taylor Townsend stunned Simona Halep on Thursday while Sofia Kenin is into the third round.

The 37-year-old, who lost a set to Gauff's doubles partner Caty McNally in the second round, played down talk of her compatriots' emergence being a result of the "Williams effect".

"I can't be presumptuous and say that's because of me. I think it's because of these young women and their parents and coaches want them to do something amazing," said Williams. 

"I think tennis is a great sport for females and it's a great way to showcase your personality, be yourself, make a great living and still do something that you absolutely love."

Williams will play Petra Martic in the fourth round.

Dan Evans claimed US Open schedulers gave Roger Federer a helping hand after the weary Briton bowed out of Flushing Meadows on Friday.

Midweek rain delays meant Evans played his second-round match against Lucas Pouille a day later than planned, eventually beating the French 25th seed on Thursday. 

Federer, in contrast, got his match out of the way on Wednesday, meaning he had ample preparation time. The 20-time grand slam winner duly swept past Evans, inflicting a 6-2 6-2 6-1 whipping on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 29-year-old British player had hoped for longer to recover, rather than being handed a slot at 12:00 local time (16:00 GMT) for his clash with the five-time US Open winner.

But Federer angrily rejected any suggestion he demanded a midday start, saying it was nonsense to think he calls the shots. He was so riled that, unusually for the Swiss, he used an expletive in his post-match news conference.

"These guys, the tournament obviously want Roger... would rather Roger be going through that match than me, so it's understandable," Evans told the media.

Evans scoffed when asked whether he or Leon Smith, the Great Britain Davis Cup captain who has been working closely with him, had requested a more suitable start time.

"You think a guy who has my ranking has any say in that?" said the world number 58. "There is probably about four people in this tournament who has a say when they play. Maybe three."

Evans - who admitted Federer played "no-error tennis" - found some sympathy from his opponent.

Federer said: "You could definitely argue that the scheduling was not in his favour. I understand if Danny is a little bit frustrated."

But the 38-year-old stressed he had not attempted to gain any pre-match advantage with the schedule, saying: "I don't remember that I asked for something. I definitely didn't do it intentionally. I don't even know if the team asked for day [rather than night session]. I know there was questions to have a preference.

"But that doesn't mean like, 'Roger asks, Roger gets'.

"Just remember that, because I have heard this s*** too often now. I'm sick and tired of it, that apparently I call the shots. The tournament and the TV stations do.

"We can give our opinion. That's what we do. But I'm still going to walk out even if they schedule me at 04:00 in the morning."

Serena Williams avoided any issues against the dangerous Karolina Muchova on Friday to ease through to the US Open fourth round.

Muchova beat Garbine Muguruza en route to the third round at Flushing Meadows last year and added to the scalp of Karolina Pliskova to her resume in reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals this year.

However, Williams never looked in danger of suffering a similar shock at Arthur Ashe Stadium, requiring only 75 minutes to wrap up a 6-3 6-2 victory.

The 37-year-old dropped a set against Caty McNally in the second round, but an ominous run of seven successive games helped her seal a win that sets up a clash with Petra Martic next.

Faced with an opponent she had not played before, Williams was visibly and audibly engaged in the contest from the start but needed until the seventh game to break when Muchova fired long.

She then held after going down 40-15 in the subsequent game, before winning her fourth game in a row – a run that secured the set - with a vicious forehand return.

Her punishment of the Muchova serve continued in the second to seemingly put the contest in little doubt, but Muchova rallied and cut a 3-0 deficit to 3-2 as Williams sliced an attempted backhand volley into the net.

Williams' response was immediate and her celebration emphatic as the Muchova serve was broken again after the Czech could only meet a running backhand with a volley into the net.

The 23-time major champion subsequently held and a fast-fading Muchova duly surrendered as an overhit forehand wrapped up a routine triumph for the eighth seed.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Serena Williams [8] bt Karolina Muchova 6-3, 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 20/15
Muchova – 17/22

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 5/7
Muchova – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 5/8
Muchova – 1/3

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Williams – 57
Muchova –53

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Williams – 67/61
Muchova – 55/35

TOTAL POINTS
Williams – 64
Muchova – 44

Roger Federer brushed aside Dan Evans in straight sets to march into the fourth round of the US Open.

The 20-time grand slam champion has struggled to find his best tennis in the early rounds at Flushing Meadows, dropping sets against qualifier Sumit Nagal and Damir Dzumhur.

Federer was in complete control from start to finish on Friday, however, with Evans providing little resistance as the Swiss eased to a 6-2 6-2 6-1 win in one hour and 20 minutes.

The lack of a real challenge from Evans meant Federer never had to hit top form, and he will hope for a similarly routine affair in the last 16 against either David Goffin or Pablo Carreno Busta.

Evans was under pressure as early as the fourth game but saved three break points to come from 0-40 down and hold.

He could not produce similar heroics two games later, however, a whipped cross-court forehand giving Federer the break, with a second arriving when Evans fired long to concede the opening set.

Federer needed only 27 minutes to take the second by the same scoreline, hitting 20 winners in the process.

Evans' frustration got the better of him at the end of the second, as he was given a code violation for smashing his racquet on his bench.

He was at least able to channel that emotion into a break back after going 2-0 down in third, but a double fault saw him immediately surrender the initiative once more.

Another double fault made it 5-1 to Federer and a one-sided contest was brought to an end when a tame backhand landed wide.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Roger Federer [3] bt Dan Evans 6-2 6-2 6-1

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Federer – 48/19
Evans – 7/14

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Federer – 10/1
Evans – 0/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Federer – 7/14
Evans – 1/2

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Federer – 66
Evans – 51

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Federer – 80/71
Evans – 41/39

TOTAL POINTS
Federer – 87
Evans – 41

Coco Gauff defeating defending US Open champion Naomi Osaka would be bad for tennis, according to John McEnroe.

Fifteen-year-old Gauff set up a mouth-watering clash with world number one Osaka by winning a thriller with Timea Babos on Thursday.

Having made it to the fourth round of Wimbledon as a qualifier, beating Venus Williams in the process, Gauff has become the story of the first week of a grand slam for the second successive major.

She will face Osaka, a player who has also experienced great success at a young age, with the Japanese winning two slams by the age of 21, on Saturday.

But McEnroe, a three-time Wimbledon champion and four-time US Open winner, believes a victory over the top player on the planet would do more harm than good.

He told ESPN: "I hope she doesn't beat Osaka, I think it would be a little too much, too soon.

"Osaka is someone who's teetering with her confidence, she's injured. However, she's the defending champion. I don't think it would be great for women's sports.

"I think it would be too much for Coco, right here at this age, it wouldn't be a good sign for the sport if a 15-year-old is beating the defending US Open champion."

Drawing parallels between Gauff's rapid progress and his own run to the Wimbledon semi-finals as an 18-year-old, McEnroe added: "I played [Jimmy] Connors in the semis and I was happy I lost.

"I felt like things happened so fast, it allowed me a year to reflect. That was big for me."

However, McEnroe continues to be blown away by Gauff's powers of resilience, with both her matches at Flushing Meadows this week having gone the distance.

"At 15, the way she keeps battling and is able to utlilise whatever resources are necessary, including the crowd, is very impressive," he said. 

"Babos tried to break her down physically, she's 15, she should break down physically in a two-and-a-half-hour match.

"The fact that she's as fit as she is and can cover the court but mentally to be just as strong is an amazing quality, that's why I said the other day I think she's going to be the best player in the world in three or four years."

Rafael Nadal had the easiest progress into round three of the US Open, but a host of his rivals in the men's singles had to come through marathons on Thursday.

Nadal was awarded a walkover as Thanasi Kokkinakis withdrew from their second-round encounter at Flushing Meadows in New York.

As 18-time grand slam champion Nadal was able to get some valuable rest, Alexander Zverev needed five sets to see off a spirited effort from Frances Tiafoe.

Daniil Medvedev required four sets against Hugo Dellien to keep his title hopes alive as a host of other matches went the distance, including Hyeon Chung's battle with Fernando Verdasco.

Chung came from two sets down and 5-2 down in the fifth to defeat Verdasco, saving a match point to book a meeting with a refreshed Nadal.

Marin Cilic – the 2014 champion – moved on to Arthur Ashe Stadium because of Kokkinakis' withdrawal and defeated Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 4-6 6-3 7-5 6-3.

 

TOUGH LUCK FOR TIAFOE

Tiafoe has developed an unfortunate habit for losing five-setters, and he was on the wrong end of a topsy-turvy affair with sixth seed Zverev.

German Zverev came through 6-3 3-6 6-2 2-6 6-3, leaving Tiafoe to bemoan another marathon effort in vain, having also lost to Fabio Fognini in five sets at Wimbledon.

Asked to summarise his grand slam year, Australian Open quarter-finalist Tiafoe said: "Paris, unfortunately got sick there. Then I lose to Fabio in five. I lose to Zverev in five. You tell me how that feels. It's tough."

Zverev next faces Aljaz Bedene – a five-set victor over Benoit Paire. Alexander Bublik, Kamil Majchrzak and Paolo Lorenzi all won after going the distance.

Lorenzi latter's clash with Miomir Kecmanovic lasted four hours, 48 minutes and the Italian now has to gather what energy he has left ahead of Friday's meeting with 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka, who defeated Jeremy Chardy 6-4 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 6-3.

Wawrinka and Lorenzi's match precedes Medvedev facing Feliciano Lopez, who came from a set down to beat Yoshihito Nishioka 6-7 (7-9) 6-0 6-4 6-4.


DUBIOUS REWARDS FOR EVANS & KUDLA 

Dan Evans and Denis Kudla each knocked out seeds in Lucas Pouille and Dusan Lajovic, and both received dubious rewards for their performances.

Evans will have a tight turnaround to face third seed Roger Federer on Friday, while home hope Kudla will take on defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic.

John Isner enjoyed a straightforward win over Jan-Lennard Struff, Gael Monfils also enjoyed serene progress against Marius Copil as he set up a match with Denis Shapovalov, while David Goffin eased past Gregoire Barrere 6-2 6-2 6-2.

Next up for Goffin is Pablo Carreno Busta after the 2017 semi-finalist beat Ricardas Berankis 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 6-0.


AUSSIES ON SONG

Nick Kyrgios had no problems against Antoine Hoang, winning 6-4 6-2 6-4 to secure a third-round clash with Andrey Rublev, the beneficiary of a walkover after one set with Gilles Simon.

Fellow Australians Alex de Minaur and Alexei Popyrin were also triumphant, though Jordan Thompson lost to Matteo Berrettini.

Kyrgios expressed no surprise at the success of his compatriots. He told a media conference: "De Min, I never expect anything less from him, he's an absolute warrior. He can beat a lot of good players.

"When I see him progressing through a draw, I know it's a nightmare for anyone who comes across him.

"Obviously Popyrin had a pretty good win today. Kukushkin is a savvy veteran. I'm not surprised when those guys win matches at all. They're capable of doing some big things."

Coco Gauff felt like she was the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals when she heard her named chanted by the Louis Armstrong crowd in Thursday's US Open second-round win over Timea Babos.

Teenage sensation Gauff was again responsible for a thrilling contest at Flushing Meadows, where the 15-year-old American outlasted Babos 6-2 4-6 6-4.

Gauff prevailed after a frenetic two hours, 23 minutes, during which the vociferous crowd frequently led 'Coco' chants as she set up a clash with defending champion and world number one Naomi Osaka.

Gauff conceded she was taken aback by the level of support received, telling a media conference: "For me it's still wild. This is the first time -- well, not the first time. The first round was the first time I actually had a chant, but today it was a lot louder and a little more consistent.

"I was thinking like maybe they feel like I'm Golden State in Game 7 or something. It's different because you're an individual player, so it's weird, I guess.

"Most of the time you hear the chants, it's for a whole team, not just for, like, me. So it was pretty cool."

Gauff saw her friend and doubles partner Caty McNally take a set off Serena Williams on Wednesday, while Taylor Townsend headlined Thursday's results with a stunning comeback against fourth seed Simona Halep.

Asked if she and McNally are inspiring each other now, Gauff replied: "Yeah, for sure. I remember in Midland she won her first pro title. I lost second round that tournament. She kind of inspired me, like, okay, it's possible to do well, I think, just in general, not just me and Caty but all the young Americans.

"I saw Taylor won today. I think we're all just kind of pushing each other. Obviously when we play against each other, we don't want the other person to win. But literally when we're playing someone else, we root for each other."

Gauff plays doubles with McNally on Friday and feels that match may aid her preparations for two-time grand slam champion Osaka.

"For me, doubles isn't a problem. I mean, juniors, I played doubles a lot of the times, almost every tournament if I can get into doubles, I'm playing it," said Gauff. 

"To me it helps because it's a different game. I guess you get to work on volleys, you get to work on your returns a lot in doubles.

"I think that's actually going to prepare me for Naomi, because doubles to me is more faster paced than singles. Naomi actually hits the ball pretty hard. I think it will prepare me well for Saturday's match."

Simona Halep suffered a huge shock at the US Open at the hands of Taylor Townsend as Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka booked a mouth-watering third-round clash in New York.

Halep had been considered one of the favourites for the women's singles title but saw a one-set lead snatched away by Townsend, who produced a thrilling comeback to claim the biggest win of her career on Thursday.

Townsend will face another Romanian, Sorana Cirstea, next but the match of the third round pits defending champion and world number one Osaka against 15-year-old Gauff, who once again delighted the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd by winning a brutal battle with Timea Babos in two hours, 23 minutes.

She becomes the youngest woman to reach round three since 1996 will face a champion in fine form after Osaka made short work of Magda Linette as her defence continued at pace.

Osaka's hopes of retaining the crown have been boosted by Halep's exit, and sixth seed Petra Kvitova has also been removed as a potential obstacle after her loss to Andrea Petkovic.

 

HALEP SHORT ON INSPIRATION

Townsend came to the net over 100 times against Halep, an aggressive tactic that worked superbly in her stunning 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) comeback.

Halep, though, felt a difference in inspiration levels was key. She told a media conference: "She was very inspired of every ball. She came a lot to the net and didn't miss much. It's unbelievable.

"I was not inspired at all today, but I fought. I thought when I came back that I will take it and I will win it. But sometimes it goes the other way."

Kvitova was also left to reflect on what might have been after her 6-4 6-4 defeat to Petkovic, while ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka was knocked out 6-3 7-6 (7-3) by Yulia Putintseva, who followed up her Wimbledon win over Osaka to knock out a top-10 seed for the second straight slam.

Seventh seed Kiki Bertens, however, is through after a 7-5 6-4 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Belinda Bencic and Anastasija Sevastova were three-set winners over Alize Cornet and Iga Swiatek respectively and Johanna Konta thrashed Margarita Gasparyan 6-1 6-0.


HOME HOPES SPRING ETERNAL

Townsend's success was the headline act of a day defined by victories for young Americans on the women's side.

It was Gauff, though, who closed out the day's action and did so in typically engrossing fashion. The teenager again went the distance and willed her way to a 6-2 4-6 6-4 triumph, showcasing her incredible movement, repertoire of shots and composure to a raucous home crowd.

Sofia Kenin dished out a bagel in her 7-6 (7-4) 6-0 win over Laura Siegemund, while Kristie Ahn needed eight match points to complete her 6-2 6-3 defeat of Anna Kalinskaya.

Danielle Collins threatened an upset against two-time Flushing Meadows finalist Caroline Wozniacki, but eventually went down 4-6 6-3 6-4 as the 2018 Australian Open champion set up a match with another of the game's brightest talents, Bianca Andreescu, who beat Kirsten Flipkens 6-3 7-5.

"I kind of know what to expect if I play her. I know that she's an incredible fighter," Andreescu said of Wozniacki. "She runs every ball down, and I know that it's not going to be easy. I'm just going to go out there and play my game."

 

BENCIC ASKS QUESTIONS OF VEKIC

Donna Vekic had to wait for the reporters to be ready for her in the media room after her 7-5 6-3 victory over Kaia Kanepi, giving Bencic the chance to put her through her paces in an impromptu interview.

The Croatian has plenty of reasons to be cheerful after reaching the third round in New York for only the second time.

Joining her in round three is Karolina Muchova, who eliminated 29th seed Hsieh Su-Wei 6-1 4-6 7-6 (7-2) but will now have to recover quickly as she faces 23-time grand slam winner Serena Williams on Friday.

Maria Sakkari will have a similarly quick turnaround in facing second seed Ashleigh Barty after overcoming Peng Shuai 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-2.

Elsewhere in the draw, Wang Qiang overcame Alison van Uytvanck, Anett Kontaveit fought back against Ajla Tomljanovic and Elise Mertens, Petra Martic and Julia Goerges were also victorious. 

Naomi Osaka's straight-sets victory over Magda Linette at the US Open was partially motivated by a desire to keep Kobe Bryant and Colin Kaepernick out of the sun.

Five-time NBA champion Bryant and former San Francisco 49ers star Kaepernick, whose activism has effectively ended his NFL career but seen him become one of the world's most influential athletes, were sat in Osaka's box on Thursday as she overcame Linette 6-2 6-4.

Osaka had to work harder in her first-round match, in which she came from a set down to defeat Anna Blinkova 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 in New York.

The top seed wrapped things up in much shorter order to reach round three, helping her famous fans beat the heat in the process at Flushing Meadows.

Asked if she felt added pressure having Bryant and Kaepernick in her box, Osaka told a media conference: "I don't feel like it's pressure, but I do feel like I did want to play well.

"I don't know. It's just funny to me. You know, like, last year compared to this year there is no way, like, Kobe would sit in my box. Yeah, Kaepernick, too. It's just crazy who you run into in life.

"For me, it wasn't pressure. It was just like I really didn't want them to sit in the sun too long, honestly. That was the thing that was on my mind. I was, like, I don't really want to play a third set."

On the advice Bryant gives her, she added: "Everybody knows Kobe gives me real-life advice. He's someone I look up to as an athlete and also as a person.

"I'm really grateful that I even have the opportunity to, like, talk to him and stuff."

Rafael Nadal received a walkover into round three of the US Open after Thanasi Kokkinakis withdrew from their second-round match.

Spanish star Nadal – the second seed – was due to close out Thursday's evening session against Kokkinakis on Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.

However, the 18-time grand slam champion will now be able to rest ahead of his third-round encounter after Kokkinakis was forced to end his participation in the tournament.

Marin Cilic's match with Cedrik-Marcel Stebe has been moved from Louis Armstrong to Ashe to fill the void.

Nadal will face either Fernando Verdasco or Hyeon Chung in the third round at Flushing Meadows as the 33-year-old eyes a fourth US Open title.

Taylor Townsend pulled off the biggest shock of the US Open as she came from a set down to stun fourth seed Simona Halep in the second round.

Wimbledon champion Halep was expected to have few problems against the qualifier and world number 116, but was on the end of a remarkable comeback as Townsend prevailed 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) on Thursday.

Halep took the first set in dominant fashion, but Townsend found inspiration in the second set and brought the Arthur Ashe crowd to life in New York.

The former girls number one demonstrated outstanding reflexes at the net and took the contest to Halep as she set up a decider.

Townsend has to this point been unable to deliver on the potential she displayed as a junior, but she continued on the attack and punished the Halep second serve, breaking to love in game five.

Having only once previously reached the third round of a grand slam, any nerves on Townsend's part would have been understandable.

They promptly showed up as she let three match points go begging when serving for the match as Halep found her best tennis in the closing moments.

However, Halep wasted a match point of her own, setting up a frenetic tie-break that was settled when the Romanian fired into the net to an eruption from the home crowd as an emotional Townsend raised her arms and celebrated the biggest win of her career.

 

Petra Kvitova conceded she might have returned too early from the arm injury that kept her out of the French Open, as her grand slam season ended with a second-round defeat to Andrea Petkovic at the US Open.

The two-time Wimbledon champion reached the final at the Australian Open this year before being forced to pull out of Roland Garros in May.

Kvitova did not play any further tournaments prior to Wimbledon, where she reached the fourth round before losing to Johanna Konta.

The world number six was undone at Flushing Meadows by a player she has consistently had problems with, Petkovic going 6-5 up in the career head-to-head with Kvitova by condemning her to a 6-4 6-4 defeat.

Kvitova revealed she has swelling on her arm but said the mental pain of skipping Wimbledon would have been more troubling than a physical complaint.

"Maybe I should take one more week before Wimby, but that means I'm going to skip Wimby, which, you know, on the mental side would be much tougher, I think," Kvitova told a news conference.

"Maybe the arm would be much better right now, but I didn't feel any pain. It's just getting swollen, which means something is there but I don't know what is there."

On her performance against Petkovic, Kvitova added: "I don't think I played that badly. I did have my chances, for sure, but somehow I just couldn't make it."

Asked to assess her performances in majors this year, the Czech left-hander said: "Overall I'm pretty happy, for sure. I had to withdraw from the French Open, which wasn't really a nice thing but that happens in the tennis career, so I'm taking it.

"I reached the final of the Australian Open, definitely the highlight of it. I could have missed Wimbledon but I was able to play and reached a good result over there. Overall, I think it was OK."

Naomi Osaka moved into round three of the US Open with a straight-sets win over in-form Magda Linette, but she did not have it all her own way.

Reigning champion Osaka was taken the distance by Anna Blinkova in her opener on Tuesday but avoided a repeat after reeling off five straight games to come from behind in the second set and triumph 6-2 6-4.

The world number one will face the winner of the encounter between teenage sensation Coco Gauff and Timea Babos in the third round.

Osaka was forced to retire from her Western & Southern Open quarter-final against Sofia Kenin due to a knee injury and admitted after overcoming Blinkova she did not feel at her best.

However, she started strongly at Louis Armstrong Stadium on Thursday, not dropping a single point in her first two service games and then breaking to love.

The two-time major champion rallied from 40-0 down in game seven to earn a double break and promptly wrapped up a commanding first set.

Linette - who was on a nine-match winning streak that included clinching a first WTA Tour title at the Bronx Open - won against serve when Osaka buried a shot in the net early in the second and the Japanese was fortunate her opponent failed to repeat a stunning forehand down the line for a 4-0 advantage.

Osaka heeded the warning and came straight back, regaining her rhythm and surging into a potential blockbuster against Gauff that would delight the fans at Flushing Meadows.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Naomi Osaka [1] bt Magda Linette 6-2 6-4

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Osaka – 13/19
Linette – 10/20

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Osaka – 2/3
Linette – 2/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Osaka – 4/6
Linette – 1/4

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Osaka – 46
Linette – 55

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Osaka – 83/59
Linette – 55/50

TOTAL POINTS
Osaka – 60
Linette – 43

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