Osaka to tumble below 80th after early Melbourne exit

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Former world number one Naomi Osaka is set to plummet below 80th in the rankings after her Australian Open title defence met a shud-dering halt in only the third round.

The four-time Grand Slam champion from Ja-pan is currently ranked 14th — already low by her standards — but is set to fall after her early demise in Melbourne.

Osaka squandered two match points on Friday as 60th-ranked American Amanda Anisimova stunned her 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10/5) to set up a show-down with top seed and home hope Ashleigh Barty in the last 16.

The 24-year-old Osaka said that she was “not quite worried” about her tumble down the rankings — the last time she was below 80 was in August 2016.

“I think that it will go up to where it needs to go up to if I keep playing like this throughout the year,” said Osaka, who was happy with her performance despite losing.

“I’m just going to keep my head down and keep working hard.I think I’ll get to where I need to get to.” It compounds a difficult six months for Osaka.

She beat American Jennifer Brady in last year’s Melbourne Park final but then withdrew from the French Open — having said she would not do press conferences to protect her mental health — and did not play at Wimbledon.

—AFP

 

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