American teenager Coco Gauff and two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka could face each other at the U.S. Open again after Thursday’s draw for the Grand Slam tournament set up a possible third-round rematch.
The U.S. Tennis Association quietly posted the women’s and men’s singles draws online, without the usual TV hoopla.
The draw was announced on the same day all matches in the Western & Southern Open -- being played at the U.S. Open site because of the coronavirus pandemic -- were called off following Osaka’s decision Wednesday to drop out of her semifinal in response to the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by police in Wisconsin.
Osaka changed course Thursday, saying she would play when the Western & Southern Open resumes Friday because the tournament's pause helped call attention to the issues of racial injustice and police brutality.
The U.S. Open is scheduled to begin Monday, without any spectators.
Osaka, who won the 2018 U.S. Open and 2019 Australian Open, beat Gauff, then just 15, 6-3, 6-0 in the third round at Flushing Meadows a year ago.
As tears welled in Gauff’s eyes at the end of the match, Osaka offered a hug and words of consolation, then told the teen to address the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd. It was one of the most indelible moments of last year’s tournament.
“I have honestly not talked about it with her. It just feels like it was like a natural thing, and it’s kind of in the past,” Osaka said this week. “For me, I don’t really dwell on it, and I don’t think she does, either. It’s not in a negative way, but it’s just, like -- for me, it’s just really cool to see someone rising up like that, and that’s just something that I did, like, genuinely in the moment.”
They met again at the Australian Open in January, with Gauff coming out on top.
If the No. 4-seeded Osaka or the unseeded Gauff reaches the quarterfinals, the opponent at that stage could be No. 6 Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion.
Other potential women’s quarterfinals: No. 1 seed Karolina Pliskova vs. No. 8 Petra Martic; No. 2 Sofia Kenin vs. No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka; and No. 3 Serena Williams vs. No. 7 Madison Keys.
Only two of the top eight women in the WTA rankings entered the hard-court tournament. Among those missing are No. 1-ranked Ash Barty and 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu.
The defending men’s champion, Rafael Nadal, and 20-time Grand Slam title winner Roger Federer are also among those absent in New York this year.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic did decide to play, though, and was drawn to face 107th-ranked Damir Dzhumhur in the first round.
The men’s quarterfinals could be Djokovic vs. No. 7 seed David Goffin; No. 2 Dominic Thiem vs. No. 8 Roberto Bautista Agut; No. 3 Daniil Medvedev vs. No. 6 Matteo Berrettini; and No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. No. 5 Alexander Zverev.
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