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Townsend moves to fourth round; Gauff faces Osaka at U.S. Open

US Open Tennis

Taylor Townsend, of the United States, reacts after defeating Sorana Cirstea, of Romania, during round three of the US Open tennis championships Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Sarah Stier)


NEW YORK -- Taylor Townsend charged into the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, beating Sorana Cirstea 7-5, 6-2 on Saturday at the U.S. Open.

Two days after upsetting Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, Townsend stuck to her aggressive game plan and repeatedly rushed the net to set up easy volleys and smashes.

“I just tried to do what I did in the last round and tried to get better,” Townsend said.

The 23-year-old Townsend’s victory came on a day when another young American was in the most anticipated matchup at the tournament so far, with 15-year-old Coco Gauff facing defending champion Naomi Osaka.

Gauff was trying to duplicate her thrilling run to the fourth round at Wimbledon but to do so would have to get past the No. 1 ranked player under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where Osaka beat Serena Williams in last year’s final for her first major title.

“I think it will be a really interesting match,” Williams said a day earlier. “I definitely am interested to watch.”

Townsend came forward 75 times against Cirstea, amassing a 47-8 advantage in net points won. That style got her past Halep, the No. 4 seed, and never let Cirstea come back in a match that lasted less than 90 minutes.

Townsend’s previous best result at a major tournament was when she reached the third round at the 2014 French Open at age 18. She next faces No. 15 seed Bianca Andreescu, who beat No. 19 Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-4.

“I’m here and I’m going to make it count,” Townsend said.

Rafael Nadal was back on the court for the first time since Tuesday, the No. 2 seed having received a walkover in his second-round match. The three-time champion faced qualifier Hyeon Chung, a 2018 Australian Open semifinalist who has been slowed since by injuries.

No. 6 Alexander Zverev and No. 28 Nick Kyrgios were also on the schedule, trying to reach the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the first time in what’s been an upset-filled men’s tournament.

More than half of the 32 seeded men didn’t even make the third round, where a matchup Saturday between No. 14 John Isner and 22nd-seeded Maric Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, was the only match in the third round between two seeded players.