Defending champion Kerber beaten by Japanese teenager at US Open

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The title she won at NY previous year even propelled her to the world number 1 ranking - making her the first German since Steffi Graf to reach the summit.

The German was still the world number one as recently as July, but will slip significantly from her current ranking of sixth after the US Open is completed, having become only the second defending women's champion to lose in round one. In truth, unless she elevates her play during the few key tournaments to be played between now and year's end Kerber, who will turn 30 in January 2018, is unlikely to make the year-end event this season.

But then, pressure is all Kerber has known since the end of a year ago, one in which she played three Grand Slam finals, winning two. The 29-year-old German recently welcomed back a former coach, Benjamin Ebrahimzadeh, for the U.S. Open, although clearly it did not produce the desired results. She reached the U.S. Open final previous year before losing to Kerber in three sets.

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On Tuesday, she also had to purge bad memories on Arthur Ashe Stadium during her bout with Kerber. "I was really glad when she made an error". "I think, yeah, it was not my day, completely not my day today", Kerber told ESPN after the match. Though Lajovic had managed an incredible 83% first serve rate in the opening set while also producing nine winners, he could not maintain the same level of tennis over the next two sets which eventually cost him. "It's like, nostalgic every time I come here so I am always really happy to play here".

"I felt the same type of nerves come up, 4-1 in this match", Osaka said afterward, "So I wanted to tell myself just to keep playing how I was playing and not let the nerves get over me as much as past year". She fought her way to the top of the mountain - but staying there is tough to do.

"I think she's a very aggressive player, but I know this before", noted last year's champion". Serena, who won her first US Open in 1999, was Osaka's idol, and the Japanese-American player seems to have modelled her game on the unconventional swings of Serena's. Previous year at Ashe Stadium, she squandered a 5-1 lead in the third set against eighth-seeded Madison Keys, a loss that seemed to leave some emotional scar tissue.

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Osaka used to get really nervous answering questions from the Japanese media.

"I was trying to finding my rhythm then, and especially in the important moments, but, yeah, sometimes it's not working like you want".

Born to a Japanese mother and Haitian father, the youngster had moved with her family to NY when she was just three.

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"I'm still the same player and the same person", she said.