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Japan’s Naomi Osaka leaves the court after being beaten by Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova in their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s singles third round tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Photo : TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)
Naomi Osaka’s dream of winning the gold medal in her home country came to a shocking end on Tuesday as she suffered a stunning 6-1, 6-4 loss to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the third round of the women’s singles event in the Tokyo Olympics.
Osaka was one of the main gold medal hopefuls for Japan in this year’s Olympics, given her exploits in the sport of tennis. She is a four-time Grand Slam champion and is currently ranked second in the world. Despite missing the French Open and the Wimbledon Championships in the past months due to mental illness, Osaka appeared to be in top shape when she began her Olympics campaign this week.
Osaka, who played a major part in Friday’s opening ceremony with her lighting of the cauldron, won her first two matches with ease, defeating both of her opponents in straight sets. She crushed China’s Zheng Saisai in the opening round, 6-1, 6-4, before ousting Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic in the second round, 6-3, 6-2.
Osaka struggles with her groundstrokes against Vondrousova with the roof closed
However, Osaka found the going difficult against Vondrousova, with conditions playing a major part in her loss. With rain pouring outside, organizers decided to close the roof for Tuesday’s matches. That played in the hands of Vondrousova, with Osaka struggling to get her groundstrokes in order at the start.
The 42nd-ranked Vondrousova raced to a quick 4-0 lead over Osaka in the first set, needing just 15 minutes to build that advantage. After that, Osaka won her first service game but still ended up losing the opening set 6-1 in just 24 minutes of play.
Osaka bounced back strongly at the start of the second set, breaking Vondrousova’s serve in the opening game to gain an early advantage. She built a 2-0 lead in the second set, but errors once again doomed Osaka’s comeback bid. She immediately handed the break back with a double fault in her second service game.
Osaka wasted numerous chances to break Vondrousova’s serve at 3-3 as the Czech Republic star negated the threat with perfectly executed drop shots. That proved to be costly as 10 minutes later, the match was over. Serving at 4-5 to stay alive in the Olympics, Osaka crumbled under the pressure as she sent a cross-court backhand wide at match point to hand the victory to Vondrousova.
Unforced errors doom Osaka’s Olympic bid
Osaka and Vondrousova recorded 22 winners in this contest, but the main difference was the unforced errors. Osaka recorded a whopping 32 unforced errors in the third round, 22 more than Vondrousova, who tallied just ten errors.
Osaka failed to take advantage of her first serves as well. Even though she put 64 percent of her first serves in play against Vondrousova, Osaka only won 49 percent of those points. That spelled trouble against Vondrousova, the former French Open finalist, who played the match of her life in the third round.
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