TOKYO — Two things seemed distinct via the first two days of Naomi Osaka’s quest to win an Olympic gold medal. The principle used to be how distinguished it meant to her to be representing Japan, which bestowed her the distinction of lighting the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony. The second used to be that her tennis seemed up to the occasion.
However that’s the amazing thing about sports actions. Everything we think we know can switch in the blink of an seek for.
Sincere admire that, Osaka’s flee is over after a shocking 6-1, 6-4 loss to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, continuing the pattern of excessive seeds bowing out early in the ladies’s singles plot.
According to merely about each part imaginable, it could well well had been demanding to contain a look at this coming. Vondrousova, a 22-yr former lefty, surprisingly made the French Begin final in 2019 nonetheless has appropriate one WTA title to her title. Her form lately has been inconsistent at handiest, having fallen to No. 42 after a stint in the tip 20.
However Vondrousova got here out from the first ball with an aggressive recreation thought against Osaka, putting her on the advantage foot with deep returns and forehands from the guts of the court. Against an opponent with distinguished more vitality from the baseline than what Osaka confronted in two simple wins to originate the match, she replied with too many wild misses and by no arrangement seemed admire she used to be ready to manipulate rallies or prance on offense. Vondrousova used to be the simpler player from begin to finish.
Osaka, who made 32 unforced errors, hadn’t misplaced earlier than the quarterfinals of a hardcourt match since the 2020 Australian Begin.
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This used to be Osaka’s first match since withdrawing from the French Begin, citing the must think a destroy for her psychological health. Her focal point now will flip to defending her U.S. Begin title later this summer, nonetheless in many ways, her complete yr had been constructed around trying to win a gold medal in Tokyo.
Now that dream is long previous, opening up the sphere reminiscent of the 2016 Olympics when longshot Monica Puig took gold. In addition to Osaka, who used to be the No. 2 seed here, world No. 1 Ash Barty and No. 3 Aryna Sabalenka both suffered early defeats.