Defending champion Naomi Osaka advanced to the third round of the US Open by walkover while 2017 champion Sloane Stephens put up a masterclass to beat Coco Gauff in the second round on Wednesday on the rain-hit third day.

Osaka reached the third round when 20-year-old Serbian qualifier Olga Danilovic withdrew due to illness. “I have been feeling unwell these past few days dealing with a non-covid related viral ilness,” Danilovic posted on social media.

Osaka, seeking her fifth Grand Slam title and third US Open crown in four years, next faces Canada’s 73rd-ranked Leylah Fernandez. The 23-year-old Japanese third seed could could become the first repeat US Open winner since Serena Williams, absent with a torn hamstring, captured her third in a row in 2014.

Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open winner who could meet Osaka in the fourth round, beat 21st seed Gauff 6-4, 6-2 in an all-American showdown. “I’m really pleased with how I played,” Stephens said.

Two-time Grand Slam winners Victoria Azarenka and Garbine Muguruza booked a third-round showdown.

Spanish ninth seed Muguruza, the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon winner, beat Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-2, taking her first win in four tries against the German. She will next face two-time Australian Open champion and three-time US Open runner-up Azarenka, the 18th seed from Belarus who defeated Italy’s Jasmine Paolini 6-3, 7-6 (7/1).

“The next round is going to be exciting for both of us,” Azarenka said.

Azarenka and Muguruza have split four career meetings. Muguruza won the most recent in 2020 at Rome and again by walkover in this year’s Doha semi-finals.

“It’s going to be a very difficult match. She always plays great here,” Muguruza said. “She’s always a dangerous player, because if you played great you can always play great again. She’s one of the best players out there.”

Romanian 12th seed Simona Halep, the 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon champion, replaced Osaka on Ashe and dispatched Slovakian Kristina Kucova 6-3, 6-1.

Despite a bandaged right thigh and a year of nagging injuries, Halep advanced on a service winner after 68 minutes for her deepest US Open run since 2016.

“I feel better. I’m more confident,” Halep said. “Before the tournament, I was a little worried with injuries.”

Ukraine’s fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina, a 2019 US Open semi-finalist, ousted Spain’s Rebeka Masarova 6-2, 7-5.

A women’s match scheduled later at Armstrong, German sixth seed Angelique Kerber against Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina, was postponed to Thursday.


Second round

Elina Svitolina (UKR x5) bt Rebeka Masarova (ESP) 6-2, 7-5

Darya Kasatkina (RUS x25) bt Markéta Vondroušová (CZE) 3-6, 6-4, 6-4

Elena Rybakina (KAZ x19) bt Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-1, 6-4

Simona Halep (ROM x12) bt Kristína Kucová (SVK) 6-3, 6-1

Sloane Stephens (USA) bt Cori Gauff (USA x21) 6-4, 6-2

Leylah Fernandez (CAN) bt Kaia Kanepi (EST) 7-5, 7-5

Naomi Osaka (JPN x3) bt Olga Danilovic (SRB) walkover

Barbora Krejcíková (CZE x8) bt Christina McHale (USA) 6-3, 6-1

Kamilla Rakhimova (RUS) bt Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS x32) 6-4, 6-1

Victoria Azarenka (BLR x18) bt Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-3, 7-6 (7/1)

Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP x9) bt Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-4, 6-2

Elise Mertens (BEL x15) bt Valentini Grammatikopoulou (GRE) 6-2, 6-2

Ons Jabeur (TUN x20) bt María Camila Osorio (COL) 6-0, 6-1

Danielle Collins (USA x26) bt Kaja Juvan (SLO) 6-4, 6-2

Aryna Sabalenka (BLR x2) bt Tamara Zidanšek (SLO) 6-3, 6-

With AFP Inputs