NEW YORK (AP) – Naomi Osaka slammed her racquet against the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Moments later, she threw away her gear, sending it bouncing and skidding halfway towards the net. Then came a full peak near the baseline.
Osaka’s game was off. His cool was gone. In the end, the crowd booed her for taking too long between points, turning their backs on the court.
Soon enough, Osaka’s US Open title defense ended in the third round with a 5-7, 6-7 (2), 6-4 loss on Friday night to Leylah Fernandez, an 18-year-old Canadian. years old ranked 73rd and had never been so far in Grand Slam competition.
saka? She came with a 16-game winning streak in major tournaments and four career trophies, all on hard courts. But it was Osaka’s first Slam tournament since she pulled out of Roland Garros ahead of the second round to take a break for her sanity – she also missed Wimbledon, before competing in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where she lit the cauldron – and maybe free time was an issue.
Another possible factor in her failure to close matters as she served for the victory over southpaw Fernandez at 6-5 in the second set: Osaka had not competed since Monday. This is because the woman she was to meet in the second round, Olga Danilovic, withdrew because she was ill.
Osaka, who left the field after seven games to change outfits and put on a yellow highlighter dress, was quite good in the first set. She grabbed 12 of the last 13 points, including the last nine, with a love break to go up 6-5, and a love grab with the help of a pair of aces at 112 mph and 114 mph to end it.
Seemed on track for a similar conclusion in the second set, leading 6-5 and serving. But when she sailed a wide forehand, Fernandez had her first break of the game to make it 6-all.
And so began the downward spiral of Osaka. She fell behind 5-0 in the ensuing tie-breaker, missing shots and displaying her frustration as she has sometimes done in the past – throwing her racquet.
Chair umpire Alison Hughes did not sanction Osaka at that time, although a warning was issued later for hitting a ball in the stands.
Specifically, Osaka was not at its best. She walked off the pitch with a white towel draped over her head after the second set and never really managed to move her game forward.
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