US Open: Osaka gets walkover as Djokovic protege Danilovic withdraws due to illness

By Sports Desk September 01, 2021

Naomi Osaka was due to face Olga Danilovic on Wednesday, but the defending US Open champion was handed a walkover into the third round. 

Osaka, who defeated Marie Bouzkova in the first round to start her title defence at Flushing Meadows, is hunting her fifth grand slam title and third in New York. 

Serbian youngster Danilovic, who is being mentored by ATP world number one Novak Djokovic, defeated American Alycia Parks in straight sets on Monday but had to pull out of her second-round tie with Osaka due to a viral illness. 

However, the 20-year-old stressed she had not tested positive for COVID-19. 

"Hi everyone… I am so sad to have to withdrawal [sic] from my match this morning. I have been feeling unwell these past few days dealing with a non-COVID related viral illness," Danilovic wrote in an Instagram post. 

"I was really looking forward to playing against Naomi on Arthur Ashe Stadium today, but [it was] not to be this time. 

"I just want to say [a] big thank you to medical staff here [at the] US Open and [to] everyone for your support and I cannot wait to be back in New York at this amazing tournament next year." 

Osaka will face Leylah Fernandez in the third round on Friday after the Canadian beat Kaia Kanepi 7-5 7-5. 

Another of the big names, Simona Halep, also progressed, with the two-time grand slam winner seeing off Kristina Kucova 6-3 6-1. 

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  • Australian Open: Kyrgios an 'absolute k***', says Venus Australian Open: Kyrgios an 'absolute k***', says Venus

    Michael Venus hit out at Nick Kyrgios after bowing out of the men's doubles at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

    The Kiwi and Tim Putz were beaten 7-5 3-6 6-3 by Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis in the quarter-finals at a loud Kia Arena.

    But Venus was unhappy with Kyrgios, slamming the Australian for his antics.

    "There'll always be his supporters and he'll always spin it in a way that helps him, but at the end of the day he's just an absolute k***," he told 1News.

    "I think it just speaks for him. His maturity level, it's probably being generous to a 10-year-old to say it's at about that level."

    Kyrgios and Kokkinakis have embarked on a memorable run to the semi-finals of the men's doubles, with crowds flocking to their matches.

    Despite his criticism of Kyrgios, Venus also praised the two-time grand slam singles quarter-finalist's talent.

    "He's an unbelievable tennis player, what he does on the tennis court, what he can do out there, his tennis IQ on the court, it is amazing and he's definitely on that side of things one of the best players in the world," he said.

    "But from the maturity side of things you see why he's never fulfilled his potential and probably never will."

  • Australian Open: Collins ends Cornet's run to reach semis Australian Open: Collins ends Cornet's run to reach semis

    Danielle Collins ended Alize Cornet's dream run and reached her second Australian Open semi-final with a straight-sets win on Wednesday.

    Collins moved into the last four in Melbourne for the second time in four years thanks to a 7-5 6-1 victory on Rod Laver Arena on Australia Day.

    The American 27th seed, who will face either Iga Swiatek or Kaia Kanepi in the semi-finals, was in solid form in warm conditions.

    Collins was the aggressor throughout against Cornet, who was playing her maiden grand slam quarter-final in her 63rd main-draw appearance.

    It was Collins who dictated the majority of points from the baseline early and landed a break of serve in the fourth game.

    Cornet saved three break points, but there was no denying Collins on her fourth opportunity, a powerful return setting up a simple volley winner for a 3-1 lead.

    Collins looked the more comfortable in the warm weather, but Cornet hung in there and broke back when her opponent was trying to serve out the first set, the American's backhand letting her down with three unforced errors.

    But Cornet dropped the first set when serving to stay in it, saving two set points but not a third – set up with a Collins forehand winner down the line – as she framed a forehand long.

    Collins crushed a forehand return winner to break serve in the second game of the second set to take complete control of proceedings.

    She broke to love to grab a 4-0 lead, cruising through the second set on her way to another last-four appearance in Melbourne.

     

    DATA SLAM: Contender Collins finding consistency

    The dangerous Collins has found consistency since the back end of last year.

    She is now 31-7 since July 12, 2021 and will be hard to stop by either Swiatek or Kanepi in the semi-finals.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Collins – 28/29
    Cornet – 11/17

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Collins – 5/4
    Cornet – 2/0

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Collins – 4/9
    Cornet – 1/3

  • Australian Open: Nadal almost pulled out just days before travelling, says uncle Toni Australian Open: Nadal almost pulled out just days before travelling, says uncle Toni

    Rafael Nadal almost pulled out of the Australian Open just days before heading to Melbourne, according to his uncle.

    The 35-year-old battled past Denis Shapovalov on Tuesday to reach the semi-finals of the tournament for just the third time since 2016.

    Nadal, who is chasing a record 21st grand slam title to break the three-way tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, has only won the first major of the year once in his career – back in 2009 – and lost at the quarter-final stage in 2020 and 2021.

    Even with nine-time champion Djokovic not competing after being deported by border authorities over a visa dispute, few considered Nadal to be the favourite for the title this year given he went from August to December in 2021 without playing a match, having undergone surgery on a foot injury.

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    Asked if he were surprised by Nadal's form, he told Cadena SER: "Yes, I'm surprised, because I remember when three days before the start, Rafa called my youngest son to hit a few balls after being quarantined due to coronavirus.

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    "The following day, he perked up and said 'Okay, come on, I'm going'. I think it was more the excitement of competing and returning to competition than believing in himself."

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    "He looked good. In the first two sets, he played at quite a good level against a tough opponent," he said.

    "Everything changed as a result of heatstroke. We were watching the game with the family and at one point, after the second set, I said, 'well, I think this is done', and my brother in Australia said no, he's literally exhausted, and he'd told them he had had heatstroke."

    Shapovalov lost his temper with umpire Carlos Bernardes during the match for refusing to give Nadal a time violation during a change of ends, proclaiming "You guys are all corrupt" before claiming post-match that players such as Nadal receive preferential treatment on court.

     

    "I think he is totally wrong," said Toni. "When you have to change, you need time and the umpire normally looks at the players and sees the time and starts the clock later. He pressed too soon, realised it and that's why he gave Rafa more time.

    "Young people sometimes act without thinking. How could an umpire be corrupt?"

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