Osaka aims for treble

| | New York
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Osaka aims for treble

Monday, 30 August 2021 | AFP | New York

Osaka aims for treble

Defending champion Naomi Osaka seeks her third US Open title in four tries at the year’s final Grand Slam with top-ranked Wimbledon winner Ashleigh Barty leading a host of rivals.

What’s uncertain is whether New York will see Osaka rediscover the dominant form that saw her win the past two Grand Slam events she played to the finish.

The 23-year-old Japanese star lit the flame in the Olympic cauldron at the Tokyo Games, but has played only two matches since Japan ahead of the Open.

She pulled out of the French Open after being fined for not talking to reporters after her first match and then skipped Wimbledon but spoke with the media after matches in her US Open tuneup at Cincinnati.

Osaka, ranked third, will open this year in New York against Czech Marie Bouzkova. Osaka could meet Coco Gauff in the fourth round, Ukraine’s fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals and Belarus second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals.

Barty, in her 83rd consecutive week atop the world rankings, has rolled to wins at Wimbledon and Cincinnati, putting her on best form entering the Flushing Meadows fortnight.

An impressive collection of 20-something rivals among the world’s top 10 will take aim at the trophy.

The group includes Czech Barbora Krejcikova, the French Open champion; second-ranked Wimbledon semi-finalist Sabalenka; Wimbledon runner-up Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic; Sofia Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open winner; Canada’s Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 US Open winner who skipped last year’s event; 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek of Poland and Tokyo Olympic Bronze medalist Svitolina.

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