'Get well soon': Naomi Osaka advances in 'sad' drama at US Open

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Naomi Osaka and Olga Danilovic, pictured here in action at the US Open.
Naomi Osaka advanced when Olga Danilovic was forced to withdraw. Image: Getty

Naomi Osaka advanced to the third round of the US Open on Wednesday without having to step onto court after Serbian qualifier Olga Danilovic withdrew due to illness.

The 23-year-old third seed, seeking her fifth grand slam title and third US Open crown in four years, moved on when Danilovic had to withdraw before their second-round clash.

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Danilovic took to social media to explain that she's been battling a non-Covid related illness.

"I am so sad to have to withdraw from my match this morning. I have been feeling unwell these past few days dealing with a non-covid related viral illness," the 20-year-old wrote on Twitter. 

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

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

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Osaka is trying to become the first back-to-back US Open winner since Serena Williams (absent with a torn hamstring) captured her third in a row in 2014.

Osaka's grand slam winning streak remains at 16 matches because the walkover doesn't count toward the run, just as her withdrawal from the French Open after the first round didn't end it.

Simona Halep advances as rain wreaks havoc

Meanwhile, the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which slammed into the US Gulf Coast at the weekend, drenched the grounds to interrupt outside court matches.

The show went on on the Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadium courts, which are both protected by retractable roofs.

Romanian 12th seed Simona Halep, the 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon champion, replaced Osaka on Ashe and dispatched Slovakian Kristina Kucova 6-3, 6-1.

"I was a little bit lucky to play here with the roof," Halep said.

Despite a bandaged right thigh and a year of nagging injuries, Halep advanced on a service winner after 68 minutes for her deepest US Open run since 2016.

Simona Halep celebrates her win over Kristina Kucova at the US Open. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
Simona Halep celebrates her win over Kristina Kucova at the US Open. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

"I am more confident [now], because before the tournament I was a little bit worried having not played for five or six months," she added.

"It's always tough to handle the pressure but I think I did well. It's great to be back at the US Open and to play and win some matches."

Spanish ninth seed Garbine Muguruza, a two-time grand slam champion, defeated Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-2 for her first win in four tries against the German.

Muguruza set up a meeting with fellow slam champion Victoria Azarenka, who beat Jasmine Paolini 6-3 7-6 (7-1). 

"I think it's going to be a very difficult match. I think she always plays great here," Muguruza said of Azarenka, a three-time US Open finalist, including last year.

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina, a semi-finalist two years ago, eased past Spain's Rebeka Masarova 6-2 7-5 while Ons Jabeur, the No.20 seed, brushed aside Colombia's Maria Camila Osorio Serrano 6-0 6-1. 

Belgian 15th seed Elise Mertens earlier powered past Greek opponent Valentini Grammatikopoulou 6-2 6-2.

with agencies

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