Naomi Osaka exits French Open in first round, may skip Wimbledon
Naomi Osaka lost in the French Open first round, then said she may skip Wimbledon after the WTA and ATP tours announced last week they will not award ranking points because Wimbledon is barring Russia and Belarus players.
“I didn’t even make my decision yet, but I’m leaning more towards not playing given the current circumstances, but, you know, that might change,” Osaka said in an English answer to a question in Japanese that media on site reported to be about Wimbledon. “I’m not sure why, but I feel like if I play Wimbledon without points, it’s more like an exhibition. I know this isn’t true, right? But my brain just like feels that way. Whenever I think like something is like an exhibition, I just can’t go at it 100%.”
Osaka, a four-time major champion on hard courts, made the comments after losing 7-5, 6-4 to 27th-seeded American Amanda Anisimova in the marquee first-round match at Roland Garros.
Also Monday, the women’s bottom half of the draw was blown open. Upset: No. 2 seed and defending champion Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic (in her first match since February due to an elbow injury) and No. 5 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia. With No. 6 Ons Jabeur and No. 10 Garbine Muguruza ousted Sunday, one top-10 player is left in that half: No. 4 Maria Sakkari of Greece.
In the top half, No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland throttled Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 6-0 in 54 minutes for a 29th consecutive match win, the longest women’s streak in nine years.
Rafael Nadal began his bid for a record-extending 14th French Open title by sweeping Australian Jordan Thompson 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. Nadal next gets French wild card Corentin Moutet, who dispatched 2015 Roland Garros winner Stan Wawrinka 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3. Novak Djokovic rolled Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 6-3, 6-1, 6-0.
Osaka, unseeded after taking two breaks last year, struggled with her serve -- eight double faults, first-serve percentage of 45 -- and had 29 unforced errors to 13 winners.
On Wimbledon, Osaka said she expects more “back and forth” regarding the ranking points situation before she makes her final decision. The tournament starts June 27.
She also said she’s “a bit scared” about playing on grass after previously suffering an injury on the surface.
Osaka withdrew from the 2021 French Open before her second-round match. Back then, she announced that she suffered “long bouts of depression,” one day after tennis’ Grand Slams threatened disqualification or suspension if she continued to skip press conferences, as she had announced before the event, citing mental health.
“For the most part I think I’m OK,” Osaka said last week after deciding to do a pre-tournament press conference. “When I first came here, I was very worried. ... I was worried that there were people that I offended some way and I would just kind of bump into them. But I think everyone has been really positive, for the most part.”
She entered Roland Garros with a lack of match prep on clay, including withdrawing from her last tournament with an Achilles injury.
“I tried really hard, and I just feel like it was a bit unfortunate because I wasn’t able to play as many matches leading into this tournament,” Osaka, who took a painkiller before the match and felt her Achilles in the second set, said Monday. “So there were probably some really bad decisions that I made on certain points, but I think overall I wasn’t too bad.”
The two-time U.S. Open and two-time Australian Open champion’s best result at the French was making the third round in 2016, 2018 and 2019. She has never beaten a player on clay ranked as high as Anisimova.
Anisimova, who broke through in 2019 to make the French Open semifinals at age 17, is at her best ranking since September 2020.
“It’s good going into this tournament knowing that I was so close back then and just having a very good run, so I know it’s in me,” Anisimova said.
She gets former top-20 player Donna Vekic of Croatia in the second round with Sakkari potentially waiting in the third.
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