Naomi Osaka knocks out defending champion Angelique Kerber in first round of US Open

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Naomi Osaka

Defending champion Angelique Kerber’s woeful season continued with a first-round loss to 19-year-old Naomi Osaka at the US Open.

The German’s 6-3 6-1 defeat makes her only the second defending women’s champion to lose her first match after Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2005.

Kerber rose to the top of rankings after winning in both Australia and New York last season but has not claimed a title since nor made a grand slam quarter-final.

Fourth-round appearances at the Australian Open and Wimbledon sandwiched an opening-round defeat at the French Open and her misery was complete here.

It was a very tough draw for Kerber against a player regarded as one of the future stars of the women’s game, and Osaka rose to the challenge under the roof on Arthur Ashe.

The Japanese-American is a fearless ball-striker and Kerber had no answer, netting a final forehand to succumb meekly after just 65 minutes.

Kerber, who despite her poor form held the number one spot until Wimbledon, will now fall outside the top 10.

There was better news for world number one Karolina Pliskova, who has headed in the opposite direction to Kerber after losing to the German in the final here last year.

The Czech defeated Poland’s Magda Linette 6-2 6-1, while players on the outside courts were made to wait by wet weather at Flushing Meadows.

Like Muguruza, fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki is one of eight women who could end the tournament ranked world number one.

The Dane moved safely through to round two with a 6-1 7-5 victory over Romanian qualifier Mihaela Buzarnescu.

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Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep and two other stars set to light up Flushing Meadows

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Garbine Muguruza is the favourite to win a third Grand Slam title but she will face stiff competition from World No1 Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep at Flushing Meadows.

Meanwhile, there are a number of players, who on their day, have the ability to make headlines of their own.

Ahead of the tournament, here’s a look at five stars who are set to flourish at the US Open.

Who do you think will win?

Let us know on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

GARBINE MUGURUZA

Age: 23
World ranking: 3
2017 Win/loss: 39-15
Titles won: 2
US Open best: 2nd round (2015, 2016)

Why she’ll win it: Has form – two defeats in her last 18 and titles at Cincinnati and Wimbledon – plus for the first time seems to be relishing and comfortable in the limelight as a leading lady.

Why she won’t: Has never been past the second round and could face Kvitova and Wozniacki before the semi-finals.

Garbine Muguruza.

Garbine Muguruza.

KAROLINA PLISKOVA

Age: 25
World ranking: 1
2017 Win/loss: 42-12
Titles won: 3
US Open best: Runner-up (2016)

Why she’ll win it: Came desperately close last year is now a better player. Her understated personality means she always flies under the radar so shouldn’t experience much pressure or attention until later rounds. Also in the easier half of the draw.

Why she won’t: Has struggled with her energy levels post-French Open and record against top-10 opposition isn’t great for a No1: won – 8, lost – 4.

Karolina Pliskova.

Karolina Pliskova.

SIMONA HALEP

Age: 25
World ranking: 2
2017 Win/loss: 39-12
Titles won: 1
US Open best: Semi-final (2015)

Why she’ll win it: Has reached at least the quarterfinals in four of her last five Slams. Semi-finals in Toronto and final in Cincinnati shows her form on this surface.

Why she won’t: Sharapova up first is a real banana skin. She’s gone deep in lots of tournaments but has won just one of four finals. Her heartbreaking loss in the French Open decider still haunts her to a degree.

Simona Halep.

Simona Halep.

JOHANNA KONTA

Age: 26
World ranking: 7
2017 Win/loss: 36-12
Titles won: 2
US Open best: 4th round (2015, 2016)

Why she’ll win it: Away from the focus and pressure cooker of being a British player at Wimbledon, she can go about her business becoming part of the elite. Has made the last 16 two

years running and both her titles in 2017 have come on hardcourts.

Why she won’t: Still lacks that genuine big match knowhow in a semi-final or final. Is a patchy 2-2 since her run to the last four at Wimbledon.

Johanna Konta.

Johanna Konta.

VENUS WILLIAMS

Age: 37
World ranking: 9
2017 Win/loss: 29-10
Titles won: 0
US Open best: Winner (2000, 2001)

Why she’ll win it: Made the finals in Australia and Wimbledon and the Williams sisters just deal in spectacular narratives – a win here will take her to world No1. If she makes it to the second week expect a partizan crowd to get right behind her.

Why she won’t: Hasn’t made it past the quarterfinals in NYC since 2010. Also has Wozniacki and Muguruza in her quarter of the draw.

Venus Williams.

Venus Williams.

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Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and three other stars set to shine at the US Open

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Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will try to add another Grand Slam success in their age-defying seasons when the US Open begins Monday.

World number one Nadal, back on top after more than three years, captured his 10th French Open in June for his 15th Grand Slam title while third-ranked Federer took the Australian Open and Wimbledon crowns, raising his record slam total to 19.

Nadal, 31, and Federer, 36, have never faced each other on the New York hardcourts but could meet in the semi-finals.

Federer opens against US teen Frances Tiafoe on Tuesday, the same day Nadal meets Serbian Dusan Lajovic in his first-round match.

And ahead of the tournament, here’s a look at five stars who are set to flourish at Flushing Meadows.

ROGER FEDERER

Age: 36
World ranking: 3
2017 Win/loss: 35-3
Titles won: 5
US Open best: Winner (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

Why he’ll win it: Has been in sublime form, is well rested and his win percentage (87.64) at Flushing Meadows is second only to Wimbledon.

New York loves Roger and the feeling is mutual.

Why he won’t: Could face Kyrgios and Thiem before Nadal in the semis. You’d back him in two of those three but they could sap his energy.

Roger Federer

Roger Federer.

RAFA NADAL

Age: 31
World ranking: 1
2017 Win/loss: 49-9
Titles won: 4;
US Open best: Winner (2010, 2013)

Why he’ll win it: The best player on Tour at present and has the bit between his teeth in wanting to prove everyone wrong. Has a pretty manageable draw.

Why he won’t: Federer in the last four is an obvious roadblock plus seven of his nine losses this year have been on hardcourts.

Rafa Nadal

Rafa Nadal.

ALEXANDER ZVEREV

Age: 20
World ranking: 6
2017 Win/loss: 46-14
Titles won: 5
US Open best: 2nd round (2016)

Why he’ll win it: Has everyone very excited – no one has more titles than him this year and he’s lost just two of his last 20 matches. He has is also the highest seed in the bottom half of the draw after Murray’s withdrawal.

Why he won’t: Has never been past the last eight of Grand Slam and his consistency over two weeks is yet to be examined.

Alexander Zverev.

Alexander Zverev.

GRIGOR DIMITROV

Age: 26
World ranking: 9
2017 Win/loss: 34-14
Titles won: 3
US Open best: 4th round (2014, 2016)

Why he’ll win it: Victory in Cincinnati – without dropping a set – is a huge confidence boost and the often erratic but deeply talented Bulgarian is looking a more mature and credible prospect to make a deep run in a Grand Slam.

Why he won’t: Has never looked particularly strong in New York and has Nadal and Federer on his side of the draw.

Grigor Dimitrov.

Grigor Dimitrov. 

NICK KYRGIOS

Age: 22
World ranking: 18
2017 Win/loss: 26-12
Titles won: 0
US Open best: 3rd round (2014, 2016)

Why he’ll win it: Has the talent, isn’t fazed by taking on the big guns and, unlike Wimbledon, looks healthy. The success of Zverez appears to have woken him up to his own potential.

Why he won’t: Has Federer and Nadal waiting on his side of the side and is he capable of playing that many good matches over two weeks?

Nick Kyrgios.

Nick Kyrgios.

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