| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo Credit: Garrett Ellwood/USTA


In the first night match inside Arthur Ashe Stadium this fortnight, defending champion Naomi Osaka pushed past Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-1 to book her spot in the second round.

“It felt kind of surreal to walk onto the court and to hear an actual audience this time,” said Osaka. “To see people and to hear their energy, because last year the automated crowd noise was kind of the same all the time. But here, people are reacting in real-time, so it was cool.”

Osaka, having not played many matches this summer, came out a bit rusty to open things up on Monday night, facing multiple break points in the first set. But after saving those, she capitalized on her chance at 5-4, and won a deuce game to claim the opening set.

From there, she began to roll, jumping out to a 5-1 lead and eventually wrapping up her win in one hour and 33 minutes.

“I'm always the type that gets nervous, especially in slams, especially in first rounds. I think the only interesting thing about this first round is that the nervous energy was kind of contradicting with the excitement that I had from being able to see a crowd in such a long time. It was definitely a bit weird feeling. But I think I was more excited than nervous in the end,” she said. “I mean, I feel for me, I gain confidence with each round I play. It's definitely relieving to be able to win this match in two sets instead of three.”

The third-seed Osaka will play Serbia’s Olga Danilovic next. Danilovic beat Alycia Parks 6-3, 7-5 on Monday.

Click Here to see the full results from Day One at the 2021 U.S. Open