‘This One’s a Dud’ – Tennis Star Naomi Osaka Suffers Olympic Shock at Home
Naomi Osaka’s hopes of winning Olympic gold for Japan were dashed Tuesday as she was defeated 6-1, 6-4 by Marketa Vondrousova in her return to competition.
After the earlier exits of world number one Ashleigh Barty and third seed Aryna Sabalenka, Osaka, who lighted the Olympic cauldron and was one of the faces of the Games, struggled in an error-strewn showing that blasted the draw wide open.
“How dissatisfied am I? I mean, I’m disappointed in every loss, but this one seems to sting a little more,” said the four-time Grand Slam champion.
When asked what went wrong, she said, “Everything.” If you watch the game, you’ll notice. I feel like there are a lot of things I used to count on that I can’t count on anymore.”
The defeat comes after a tumultuous few months for Osaka, who withdrew from the French Open in May after refusing to attend news conferences, citing the need to protect her mental health.
Osaka also skipped Wimbledon, citing despair and anxiety as reasons for her absence, before returning to Tokyo for her first Olympic Games, which included a starring part in the opening ceremony.
“I feel like there was a lot of pressure on me to do this. “I guess it’s because I’ve never played in the Olympics before, and it was a little overwhelming the first year,” Osaka explained.
After looking confident in the first two rounds following an eight-week layoff, Osaka got off to a terrible start beneath the center court roof at a rain-soaked Ariake Tennis Park and never recovered.
“I’ve managed to do well after taking extensive pauses in the past. I’m not saying I did badly right now, but my expectations were far higher,” she explained.
“I feel that my attitude wasn’t fantastic since I didn’t know how to deal with the pressure, so that was the best I could do in this situation.”
As the 42nd-ranked Vondrousova sped away with the first set, Osaka dropped service in the first game and was broken twice more.
The second seed broke in the second set but gave up the early lead with a double fault, allowing Vondrousova to tie the match at two games apiece.
The 23-year-old struggled with inconsistency and had no response to Vondrousova’s array of deft drop shots, even when given a chance to reclaim the initiative.
As she served to stay alive, Osaka saved two match points. Brief News from Washington Newsday.