NEW YORK: Swiss number 13 Switzerland, Belinda Bencic, surprised defending champion Naomi Osaka on Monday to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open against Donna Vekic, who rescued a match point to advance.
Bencic’s win by 7-5, 6-4, his sixth best of the WTA over an enemy in the top five this year, said the 21-year-old Japanese star Osaka will fall from the number one spot in the world next week.
“The challenge cannot be greater against Naomi,” Bencic said. “I had to be on top of my game and I am very happy with how well I managed my nerves in the end.”
Bencic, 22, matched his greatest career at the 2014 Grand Slam of the 2014 US Open with his third victory of the year over Osaka, and also won at Indian Wells and Madrid.
“He played pretty clean. He had a specific plan that he wanted to execute,” Osaka said. “I guess being aggressive.”
Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, the current French Open champion, will go to the top of the rankings next Monday after the defeat of Osaka, who defends her Australian Open title in January.
“I can see this and be very disappointed and angry, but I am not angry about that,” Osaka said. “Of course I would like to reach higher rounds. That is definitely what I will aim for in Australia.”
Vekic, Croatia’s 23rd seed, saved a match point in the second set and made his first quarterfinal of Slam by beating German planter 26, Julia Goerges, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5 , 6-3.
“I don’t even know how I won this match,” Vekic said. “She was serving the game. She had a match point. I kept fighting and believing I could win. It feels pretty amazing.”
Bencic has a 2-1 advantage in his career over Vekic in two 2014 wins, but Vekic won the most recent meeting with his friend and frequent practice partner in the third round of this year’s French Open.
“Surely it will be a difficult game,” Vekic said. “She is one of the best players this year.”
Also moved to the last eight was the Belgian 25th seed, Elise Mertens, which surpassed the American wild card Kristie Ahn in 141, 6-1, 6-1 in 67 minutes.
“I tried to play my best game,” said Mertens, who only lost 16 games in four games.
“I try to improve every time. I try to invest in my game. It will come out this week and I hope I can go much further than this.”
Mertens, whose only deepest career in Slam was in the semifinals of the Australian Open last year, will play a place in Thursday’s semifinals against the winner of a later match between the 116th-class American qualifier, Taylor Townsend, and 19 years old . Bianca Andreescu, 15th Canadian seed.