Olympics shocker: Osaka beaten and is out of the Tokyo Games

Tokyo — The host country’s superstar is out of the Tokyo Olympics.

Naomi Osaka lost to former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-4 in the third round of the Tokyo tennis tournament on Tuesday.

The second-ranked Osaka, who was born in Japan and grew up in the United States, struggled with her usually reliable groundstrokes while the 42nd-ranked Vondrousova produced a series of drop-shot winners and other crafty shots that drew her opponent out of her comfort zone.

Naomi Osaka of Japan walks off after losing her third round match against Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic at the Tokyo Olympics on July 27, 2021

REUTERS/Mike Segar

Osaka, who had the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron in Friday’s opening ceremony, won her opening two matches in straight sets following a two-month mental-health break. But conditions were different Tuesday with the roof closed because it was raining outside.

Shortly after the match was over, organizers said that Osaka had left the venue and wouldn’t be talking to the media.

Osaka skipped Wimbledon earlier this month.

She withdrew from the French Open in May, a day after she was fined $15,000 and threatened with suspension for refusing to appear at tournament news conferences, writing that those media appearances caused “huge waves of anxiety.” Osaka had announced on the eve of the Grand Slam tournament that she wouldn’t speak to the media, to protect her mental health.

Osaka opened up about her mental health struggles and her decision to drop out of the French Open in an essay in Time magazine, saying “it’s O.K. to not be O.K.” 

Vondrousova came out with her entire game clicking from the start and quickly ran out to a 4-0 lead in the first set as Osaka hardly had time to gather herself.

Osaka then broke Vondrousova’s serve in the opening game of the second set but almost immediately handed the break back when she double-faulted to make it 2-2.

After Osaka lost her serve again to end the match by hitting a cross-court backhand wide, she shook hands with Vondrousova at the net, walked to her chair, zipped her racket up in her bag and followed Vondrousova off the court.

While both players produced 22 winners, Osaka hit 32 unforced errors to Vondrousova’s 10. But it wasn’t simply an off day for Osaka; it was also an outstanding performance from Vondrousova. 

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