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Defending US Open champ Kerber humbled by Osaka in first round

31 August 2017

Karolina Pliskova and Madison Keys came through their openers at the US Open as Angelique Kerber crashed out on a rainy day in NY.

THE question was rather simple after Angelique Kerber became only the second defending US Open champion in the professional era to lose in the first round.

Osaka meanwhile had the confidence to play through her shots, hitting with venom and precision as she went on to register her first ever win against a top 10 player on her 10th attempt.

Having dominated on her serve for the better part of the opening set, with the exception being in the fifth game when she was able to fend off a break point with a brilliant backhand victor, Osaka found herself in a spot of bother while trying to serve for the set, gifting Kerber a pair of break points with a wild backhand dumped straight into the net. "I felt the same type of nerves come up when I was up, 4-1, in this match".

"I think when you see the end result, you think it just clicked, but it is a process, and it's from losing some matches that are painful". Obviously before every first-round match I'm a little bit nervous, but especially at a grand slam and especially to defend so many points here from the final a year ago.

"She's very aggressive", Kerber said. "I feel like I know that I can play with the top players now, so I don't have to be as nervous as I was today".

Watch the 2016 US Open live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player!

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She was left trying to explain why, after completing the massive effort of reaching the top, it is so hard to stay there.

Japanese teenager Osaka produced a superb display at Arthur Ashe Stadium to thrash Kerber 6-3 6-1 in an hour and four minutes.

"I think it's just the matches and how I played last year from the beginning and how I'm struggling this year. I didn't know that", Osaka said. You have to get used to everything.

World number one Karolina Pliskova, bidding to back up her lofty status with a maiden first Grand Slam title, was able to make a winning start, courtesy also of playing under the roof on Ashe.

Rain caused 55 of the 64 scheduled matches to be suspended or postponed.

Some of the blame for Kerber's slump can be attributed to the fact that the No. 1 player automatically has a target on her back; it takes a steely temperament to embrace the role.

Born to a Japanese mother and Haitian father, the youngster had moved with her family to NY when she was just three. "But at the end, you know, I'm always trying the best with all the things I have". Her ground strokes, save for a few flashes of brilliance, lacked the depth to exploit Osaka's inexperience.

Defending US Open champ Kerber humbled by Osaka in first round