It’s over for Osaka! Tokyo Olympics’ poster girl Naomi is STUNNED in just the third round and admits the pressure got to her with ‘the scale of everything being hard’ after defeat by Marketa Vondrousova
- Naomi Osaka carried the hopes of the home nation in the women’s singles
- Things quickly went from bad to worse, losing the first set in just 24 minutes
- Marketa Vondrousova was ruthless in capitalising on a rare off day by Osaka
Naomi Osaka‘s bid to become the first Japanese player ever to win tennis Olympic gold came to a abrupt halt as she was beaten in straight sets by Marketa Vondrousova in the last-16.
Osaka, world No 2, was considered the tournament favourite once Wimbledon champion and world No 1 Ash Barty suffered a shock round one exit but she admitted pressure got to her today.
Vondrousova, who reached the final of the French Open in 2019, was ruthless in her execution and having took the first set 6-1 in just 24 minutes, she held her nerve in the second set to run out 6-1, 6-4 winner.
Having ended her media boycott when she arrived at this tournament it appeared it was back on as she made a hasty exit after the loss. But she returned for a couple of questions in what is one of the biggest shocks of the tennis tournament so far.
‘I feel like I should be used to (the pressure) by now,’ she said.
‘But at the same time, the scale of everything has been a bit hard because of the break that I took. I am glad I didn’t lose in the first round at least.’
Naomi Osaka was a shock elimination in the women’s singles as she was beaten in straight sets
Osaka swiftly departed the court and did not stop to speak to reporters after the match
So much was made of Osaka returning to court for this tournament.
It was Osaka who chose to withdraw from the French Open and Wimbledon with growing concerns over her mental health.
She pointed to press conferences increasing ‘anxiety’ and so when she spoke to media members and said she was ‘glad’ they were asking her questions after her first round win, it appeared she was in a good place.
But a bitterly disappointed Osaka left the the Ariake Tennis Park within minutes of her defeat to Vondrousova, avoiding media members in the mixed zone before making a return to answer Japanese and English questions.
Just 24 hours ago she was desperately trying to play down talk she was walking towards the gold medal.
Marketa Vondrousova was ruthless in her execution as she toyed with Osaka on Centre Court
The 23-year-old chose to end her media boycott at the Tokyo Games as she spoke on TV after her second round win but she again avoided reporters after her defeat in the round of 16
‘Well you know, definitely it would mean a lot for me to win gold here but I know it’s a process,’ she said.
‘You know, these are the best players in the world and I honestly haven’t played in a while so I’m trying to keep it one match at a time. All in all, I’m just really happy to be here.’
The Japanese star won her first match in eight weeks against Zheng Saisai on Sunday in the first round, saying she felt refreshed and happy after stepping away from the court for mental health reasons.
Osaka’s decision to address the media after her win over Saisai marked the end of the media boycott that saw her withdraw from the French Open and Wimbledon.
‘For me, honestly I don’t feel that weird about it,’ she said of ending her media silence on Sunday.
Osaka looked out of sorts and lost the first set in a staggering 24 minutes with errors piling up
Osaka was tasked to light the Olympic flame at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic ceremony on Friday
‘It might feel weird to you guys, but I don’t know. I’m happy that I guess you guys are asking me questions, but more than anything I was just focused on playing tennis.
‘I guess I feel a little bit out of my body right now.’
There were a few understandable signs of rust even her wins and Osaka could not match the intensity she showed on Monday to beat Viktorija Golubic.
Osaka, who lit the cauldron in the opening ceremony, was carrying the weight of a nation on her shoulders, not least because she had spent recent weeks out of the game – and the spotlight.
At the French Open, Osaka stunned the sport by withdrawing from the Grand Slam to focus on her mental health.
She was fined $15,000 for skipping a press conference and with the threat of disqualification looming for further breaches she decided to withdraw herself.
In the end the Grand Slams all vowed to ‘improve the player experience’.
Osaka also elected to stay away from Wimbledon but was never going to miss the chance to play at a home Olympics.
The Japanese star elected to withdraw from the French Open due to mental health worries