Osaka stands tall as Sabalenka falls; Konta through

Whatever work Naomi Osaka did on her game during the Covid-19 lockdown, it looks like it's paying off. The former world No 1 continued her impressive run through the Western and Southern Open draw on Tuesday.

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The fourth-seeded Japanese shrugged off humid, windy conditions at Flushing Meadows as she cruised to a 6-3, 6-1 victory over 16th seed Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine to take her place in the quarter-finals.

With the top two seeds – Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin – out in round one and others falling around her, Osaka stood tall again as she claimed a convincing victory.

Osaka will play Anett Kontaveit, the No 12 seed from Estonia, who was too strong for Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic, winning 6-3, 6-3.

Kontaveit said she feels like the Coronavirus-enforced break has helped her, mentally.

“I do feel like I’m more calm on the court,” she said. “I feel a bit more confident in what I’m doing, as well, and just trusting myself more. I feel like I’m doing quite a lot of things better, but I don’t feel like there has been — I haven’t changed my technique. I haven’t done anything like that. I just feel more confident and comfortable on the court.”

Upsets continue as Sabalenka falls

Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka became the latest seed to fall as she was beaten 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 by American Jessica Pegula.

Having knocked out the Lexington champion, Jennifer Brady, in round one and rising American star Amanda Anisimova in round two, Pegula needed just over two hours to secure the win, a victory that will lift her around 21 places in the rankings from her current mark of No 83.

Pegula will now play Elise Mertens, the No 14 seed from Belgium, who took her place in the quarter-finals with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Veronika Kudermetova of Russia, continuing her fine form having reached the final on clay in Prague before switching surfaces and continents.

Konta ends Zvonareva run

Eighth seed Johanna Konta is looking better by the day, having ended the run of veteran Vera Zvonareva, beating former world No 2 Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals.

The Briton served superbly, dropping just four points on her first serve, as she set up a meeting with either former world No 1 Serena Williams or Maria Sakkari, the No 13 seed from Greece, in the last eight.

Johanna Konta, US Open 2019

The 35-year-old Zvonareva, back on Tour after a couple of years away through injury and for the birth of her first child in 2016, came through qualifying to make the main draw and wins over Magda Linette and Laura Siegemund took her into the third round, boosting her ranking back up inside the top 180.

But Konta, who used the Coronavirus lockdown to nurse a niggling knee injury, was too strong and from midway through the first set, her more penetrative serve and greater power on groundstrokes took her clear and on to a convincing victory, coping well with another hot day and a wind that picked up during the match.

“I adapted as the match went on,” Konta said. “When we came out she was playing really well and playing at a higher level than I was. It was tricky conditions, blustery, and she’s a tricky player to play well against. I think I served well. I’m just happy to be back playing. I enjoy playing on these courts at Flushing Meadows.”

And former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka continued her return to form, seeing off France’s Alize Cornet 6-4, 7-5 to set up a clash with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who crushed American Christina McHale 6-3, 6-0.

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