Tennis champion Naomi Osaka, one of the biggest stars at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, dropped out surprisingly early and lost to Markéta Vondroušová in the third round.
“It’s a very big story,” said Mary Carillo, stunned during the live broadcast of the Olympic Channel game, which Osaka lost 6-1 6-4 in straight sets. “The woman who lit the kettle here in Tokyo on Friday evening is out of the tournament.”
Osaka, currently one of the world’s best-known names in the sport, was selected for the final leg of the torch relay in one of the highlights of Friday’s opening ceremony. As a representative of Japan, she was one of the host country’s greatest hopes for a medal at the postponed Olympic Games.
For the four-time Grand Slam winner Osaka, this was her first tournament since retiring from the French Open to focus on mental health. The Olympic Games are played on Osaka’s favorite surface, the hard court, where she is considered the best player in the world. She has won all of her major hard court titles in the US and Australia.
Osaka did not answer questions after her loss. She later returned to the press room to answer one, saying the hot, humid conditions weren’t a factor in her defeat.
Although Osaka has often been referred to as the number 1 tennis player in the world, including by NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico during the opening ceremony of the Olympics last week, Osaka is actually number 2 behind Australian Ashleigh Barty, who also won the Tokyo individual tournament ahead of schedule left in a surprise (she still competes in women’s doubles and mixed doubles).