Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, the No. 13 seed, edged Japan’s Naomi Osaka 7-5, 6-4 on Monday in the round of 16, knocking the defending champion and world No. 1 out of the US Open .
“The challenge cannot be bigger than Naomi,” the 22-year-old Bencic said. “I had to be at the top of my game. I’m pleased how I managed my nerves.”
Bencic has now beaten the 21-year-old Osaka three straight times this season.
The US Open has now lost both of its defending champions with Osaka’s loss and the injury that forced 2018 men’s champion Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, to retire from his fourth-round match on Sunday night against Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka, who was winning 6-4, 7-5, 2-1.
“I had to take her serve early, try to anticipate, because she has a lot of power,” Bencic said. “I tried to play it a little bit like chess and tried to anticipate on the court.”
Bencic needed one hour and 26 minutes to beat Osaka and book a spot in the quarterfinals, where she will meet Croatia’s Donna Vekic, who defeated Germany’s Julia Goerges (5-7) 6-7, 7-5, 6-3.
Bencic has won two out of her three meetings with Vekic, but the Croat beat her in the third round of the French Open earlier this year.
The top four women’s players are now out of the US Open, leaving American Serena Williams , the No. 8 seed, as the favorite to win the title.
Osaka will fall out of the No. 1 spot in the WTA rankings, with Australia’s Ashleigh Barty , who arrived in Flushing Meadows as the world No. 2, taking the top spot.
Barty, the French Open champion, lost on Sunday along with No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova, of the Czech Republic.
Romania’s Simona Halep, the No. 4 seed, was upset by American Taylor Townsend in the second round.
Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, the No. 5 seed, and Williams, who is seeking her seventh US Open title, are the only top 10 players to make it to the quarterfinals at the last Grand Slam event of the year. EFE