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Tokyo 2020: Naomi Osaka out of Olympics tennis tournament


After losing to Marketa Vondrousova in the third round of the women’s singles, Naomi Osaka, the face of the Tokyo Olympics, will not be awarded a gold medal.

The 23-year-old had intended to take center stage both on and off the court during the Games, but the highlight will be igniting the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony.

Osaka had looked good in her first two matches, particularly against Viktorija Golubic on Monday, but former French Open finalist Vondrousova was a step up in level and the young Czech produced an excellent performance under the roof at the Ariake Tennis Park to win 6-1 6-4.

Vondrousova mixed her trademark drop shots with big serves and powerful groundstrokes and defended brilliantly when Osaka got her game going in the second set.

Also out of the women’s singles event is French Open champion Barbora Krejicova, meaning all three Grand Slam champions this year have been eliminated.

World No 1 and Wimbledon winner Ashleigh Barty was beaten in the first round over the weekend, and not long after Australian Open champion Osaka’s exit, it was Krejikova who tumbled out, following defeat to Switzerland’s Belina Bencic.

Osaka’s defeat was the day’s big story as the women’s quarter-final line-up was completed. The four-time Grand Slam champion did not move as well as she can, perhaps a legacy of the eight-week break she took for mental health reasons prior to this tournament.

Osaka had won 25 of her last 26 matches on hard courts, winning grand slams at the US Open and Australian Open, and, particularly given the early defeat for Barty, the stage seemed set for her to claim arguably the biggest title of them all.

But instead, it is 22-year-old Vondrousova who becomes the first player through to the quarter-finals, where she will take on Spain’s Paula Badosa after she was a comfortable straight-sets winner over Argentina’s Nadio Podoroska.

Osaka, who had hoped to become the first Japanese tennis player to win Olympic gold, had no answer to Vondrousova in the first set.

She responded well at the start of the second with a break of serve but was quickly pegged back and, although she saved two match points at 5-4, another followed and Osaka sent a backhand wide.

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Ogbonna Ugorji

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