Naomi Osaka got the experience of lighting the Olympic cauldron to open the Tokyo Games, but she will not get the experience of winning an Olympic medal.
The biggest name in women’s tennis was eliminated from the Olympic tournament on Tuesday, losing her third-round match 6-1, 6-4 to the Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova.
The match opened with Vondrousova on a tear, punishing Osaka’s serve to break her first two service games and build up a 4-0 lead in the first set.
Osaka looked much better to open the second set, breaking Vondrousova and finally holding serve.
That wouldn’t last, with Vondrousova breaking her twice more to produce one of the more shocking results of the Games.
Osaka finished the match with 18 unforced errors to Vondrousova’s six, and just couldn’t take control with her serve like she usually does at her best.
Meanwhile, Vondrousova had no trouble in her service games, winning 14 of 16 first service points and posting 10 winners, many of them drop shots.
Vondrousova entered the tournament ranked No. 42 in the WTA women’s singles rankings and was unseeded in the tournament.
Osaka entered the Olympics under the biggest cloud of scrutiny of her career following her exit from the French Open and skipping of Wimbledon.
The 23-year-old announced days before the French Open that she would not speak to the media during the tournament, citing concerns about her mental health.
The ensuing controversy became the story of the first round, with tournament organizers fining her $15,000 and threatening to default her from the tournament if she continued her boycott.
Osaka, who has been open about her struggles with mental health, eventually announced her withdrawal from the tournament after winning her first match, saying she no longer wanted to be a distraction while conceding she could have done a better job with her communications.—APP