Naomi Osaka upsets defending US Open champ Angelique Kerber

On a rainy Tuesday in New York and under the cover of the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium, 19-year-old Naomi Osaka of Japan pulled off an upset by defeating defending US Open champion Angelique Kerber of Germany in straight sets 6-3, 6-1.

The young and up-and-coming Osaka came into this year’s US Open as the No. 45 ranked women’s player in the world, but was hampered by an abdominal injury earlier this month. Against the No. 6 seed Kerber, Osaka looked healthy and was able to blast 22 forehand and backhand winners all over the court in the short 65 minute affair. For Osaka, this match was sweet revenge after giving up a 5-1 final set lead against American Madison Keys at last year’s US Open.


It’s a disappointing result for Kerber, who now owns the dubious distinction of being the first US Open defending champion to fall in the first round the following year since Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2005. The former world No. 1 struggled with her serve throughout the match and was simply overmatched by Osaka’s display of power tennis.


Osaka’s victory was the biggest upset by a Japanese player since Akiko Morigami defeated world No. 3 Nadia Petrova at the French Open in 2006. With considerable momentum behind her, Osaka will play either Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson or the Czech Republic’s Denisa Allertova in the second round of the tournament.