NEW YORK, Sept 3: Top-ranked defending champion Naomi Osaka was ousted from the US Open by Belinda Bencic while Croatian Donna Vekic erased a match point to join the Swiss 13th seed in a quarterfinal matchup.
Bencic�s 7-5, 6-4 triumph, her WTA-best sixth over a top-five foe this year, ensured 21-year-old Japanese star Osaka will fall from atop the rankings next week and won�t become the first repeat US Open winner since Serena Williams in 2014.
�The challenge cannot be bigger against Naomi,� Bencic said. �I had to be at the top of my game and I�m really pleased how well I handled my nerves at the end.�
Bencic, 22, matched her deepest career Grand Slam run from the 2014 US Open with her third victory of the year over Osaka, having also won at Indian Wells and Madrid.
�She played pretty clean. She had a specific plan she wanted to execute,� Osaka said. �I guess just being aggressive.�
Australia�s Ashleigh Barty, the reigning French Open champion, will move atop the rankings next Monday after the loss by Osaka, who defends her Australian Open title in January.
�I can look at this and be very disappointed and mad, but I�m not mad about it,� Osaka said.
�I�d like to reach higher rounds. That�s definitely what I�ll aim for in Australia.�
Osaka�s exit means there will be four different women�s Grand Slam winners in a season for the third consecutive year, a first in the Open era.
Vekic, the 23rd seed, saved a match point in the second set and made her first Slam quarterfinal by rallying past German 26th seed 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 for the match. She had match point. I just kept fighting and believing I could win. It feels pretty amazing.�
Bencic owns a 2-1 career edge over Vekic from two 2014 wins but Vekic won the most recent meeting with her friend and frequent practice partner in this year�s French Open third round. � AFP