NEW YORK, NY, USA -- No. 8 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova’s attempt to obtain a second US Open title -- and her quest to obtain the No.1 ranking along with it -- has fallen by the wayside, as she could not survive a second consecutive barnburner.
Unseeded Kurumi Nara of Japan upset the 2004 US Open champion on Thursday night, by the score of 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, in a grueling two hours and seven minutes.
Kuznetsova had beaten Nara all three times they had played in the past, all in 2014, including a three-set encounter in the final of the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. But the Russian looked a step slow following her marathon win over Marketa Vondrousova in the first round, and Nara got her first win in their rivalry.
The match featured numerous lengthy rallies between the two players, and both players struggled mightily on their second service, leading to 11 breaks of serve in the match.
But it was Kuznetsova who struggled most in the final set, hitting her 45th unforced error of the match to give Nara her first career win over a Top 10 player. Nara also advances to the third round of the US Open for the second time in her career.
"It’s the biggest win for me for my career, so I’m very happy," Nara told the press after the match. When asked if she would celebrate this milestone, she replied, "I want to! But I have to play next match, so I’ll try to keep focused."
Kuznetsova, struggling with a wrist injury, rued the chances that slipped by. "I haven’t been playing my game for really the last two matches, I was just fighting," she said after the match. "I had my chances, I didn’t use them. I felt like I was prepared, I just couldn’t bring it."
Osaka outlasts Allertova: World No.45 Naomi Osaka sent a shockwave through the draw on Tuesday, when she eliminated defending champion and No.6 seed Angelique Kerber under the roof in Arthur Ashe Stadium in straight sets.
Her second-round match was more complicated, but the Japanese teenager prevailed in a tight three-setter over World No.90 Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, in one hour and 51 minutes.
Osaka served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but a forehand unforced error down break point knotted the match at 5-5. Allertova was pumped to be so close to victory, but then shockingly dropped her serve by double faulting down break point, and tossed her racquet in dismay.
Osaka would not let another chance slip away, as she closed out the match in the next service game with an ace, making her fifth third-round appearance in only seven Grand Slam events contested.
However, if Osaka wants to reach the fourth round of a major for the first time, she will have to get by 32-year-old Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi, who cruised past 2009 US Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer, 6-4, 6-2.
Kanepi is a five-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, including at the US Open in 2010. But she is coming back from prolific injuries, and, ranked No.418, had to navigate the qualifying rounds.
Her power game was present and precise against Wickmayer, though, setting up what will surely be a bruising battle against the hard-hitting Osaka.
Other results: Jennifer Brady, another American, seems to bring her best to the Grand Slams. The 22-year-old Pennsylvania native destroyed a lackluster No.23 seed Barbora Strycova, 6-1, 6-1. Brady will attempt to make her second fourth-round appearance at a major this year, after accomplishing the feat at the Australian Open.
To do so, Brady must overcome Romania’s Monica Niculescu, who beat her countrywoman Ana Bogdan in the second round here for the second year in a row. It was the 29-year-old Niculescu who advanced to the third round again, this time by the score of 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Russia’s Daria Kasatkina also won her third round match, dispatching Christina McHale of the United States, 7-5, 6-3. Kasatkina, winner of the Volvo Car Open in Charleston earlier this year, will now take on the woman she beat in that final -- No.12 seed Jelena Ostapenko, the French Open champion.
No.27 seed Zhang Shuai of China easily got by Risa Ozaki of Japan, 6-0, 6-3, and her reward is a match against World No.1 Karolina Pliskova. 15th-seeded American Madison Keys also quickly moved forward, 6-3, 6-4 over Tatjana Maria of Germany.
Elena Vesnina, the No.17 seed from Russia, also entered the third round, beating Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, 6-4, 6-4. And Czech Lucie Safarova dispatched Nao Hibino of Japan, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.