Naomi Osaka and her legions of adoring fans in Japan and beyond were unprepared for this outcome.
The tennis great, though, will always remember the Olympic Games’ opening ceremony in Tokyo with great fondness.
It was “undoubtedly the biggest sporting success and honour I will ever have,” Osaka said after she lit the Olympic cauldron at last week’s opening ceremony.
Therefore, perhaps, just possibly, it will help Osaka deal with her shocking loss in the third round of the Olympic tennis tournament on Tuesday to Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova, a previous French Open finalist.
It won’t Happen Right Away, Though.
Osaka admitted, “This loss sucks more than the others, but I’m unhappy in every loss.”
It was difficult to live up to the lofty expectations placed on her as a four-time Grand Slam winner, the highest-paid female athlete in the world, and the face of the Games in the host country.
A lot of pressure was put on me,” Osaka admitted. “Perhaps it’s because this is my first Olympic experience, and for the first year it was a bit much.”
As the left-handed Vondrousova produced a sequence of drop-shot victories and other cunning shots that dragged her opponent out of her comfort zone, the second-ranked Osaka, who was born in Japan and grew up in the United States, battled with her usually solid groundstrokes.
Vondrousova, ranked number 42, commented on how difficult it must be for her to play in both the Olympics and in Japan. There’s an incredible amount of stress that I simply can’t fathom.
Since returning from a two-month sabbatical for mental health, Osaka has won her first two matches in straight sets. On Tuesday, though, the weather outside necessitated closing the roof, so the atmosphere was different.
Earlier in the week, Osaka expressed her excitement at returning to competition. She had previously stated in May, prior to the French Open, that she would not be speaking to reporters during that tournament because she finds that doing so gives rise to self-doubt.
Then, she failed to appear at the required press conference following her opening-round win in Paris.
Grand Slam tournament officials publically scolded Osaka and threatened suspension if she continued to shun the media, for which she was fined $15,000. Thanks for reading our article How Naomi Osakas Loss Gives Tokyo its Latest Olympic Setback.