Naomi Osaka begins US Open title defence with unconvincing first-round victory over unseeded Anna Blinkova
- Top seed Naomi Osaka beat Anna Blinkova 6-4, 6-7, 6-2 in US Open first round
- The world No 4 won five straight games to take first set after falling 4-1 down
- Osaka was then broken to force second set tie break which she lost 6-7
- Osaka is playing at Flushing Meadows for first time since winning title in 2018
- That was Osaka’s first major, beating Serena Williams in a controversial match
Defending champion Naomi Osaka fought her way into the second round of the US Open with victory over Anna Blinkova.
Osaka, who lifted her first major title at Flushing Meadows a year ago, fell 4-1 down in the first set but then won five straight games on the way to an unconvincing victory.
The Japanese top seed had a chance to win at 6-5 in the second but was broken back, before Blinkova managed to steal the set in the tie-break.
Naomi Osaka booked her place in the second round of US Open by beating Anna Blinkova
Osaka moved 4-1 ahead in the deciding set, then broke again to win 5-2 and see off a dogged Blinkova.
Osaka will now face Astra Sharma or Magda Linette in the next round.
The reigning champion lifted her first grand slam title a year ago, in a match that was overshadowed by the actions of the defeated Serena Williams.
The Russian proved a difficult opponent after going 4-1 up in the first set of the match
Osaka was in danger of falling victim to a stunning upset after losing second set on tie-break
‘It was really amazing for me, I have a lot of good memories here, I grew up here, and I wanted to add to that list of good memories,’ said Osaka.
‘I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous in my life. She played amazingly and I never really found my rhythm.
‘You want to do well after winning last year. I love playing here, that’s why I played for nearly three hours! I definitely didn’t want to lose in the first round.
‘I learn from the tougher matches so it helps me be prepared.’