Sat | Dec 5, 2020

Misfiring Osaka loses at French Open - 16-match winning streak at Slams ends in Paris

Published:Sunday | June 2, 2019 | 12:32 AM

Japan’s Naomi Osaka reacts when missing a point and losing the first set during her third-round match of the French Open tennis tournament against Katerina Siniakova at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, yesterday.
Japan’s Naomi Osaka reacts when missing a point and losing the first set during her third-round match of the French Open tennis tournament against Katerina Siniakova at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, yesterday.

PARIS (AP):

This was one deficit too big to overcome for Naomi Osaka, whose Grand Slam winning streak is over.

The No. 1-ranked Osaka couldn’t muster a comeback after falling way behind yet again at the French Open, losing 6-4, 6-2 in the third round to No. 42 Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic yesterday.

“I just feel like there has been a weight on me, kind of,” said Osaka, who was seeded No. 1 at a major tournament for the first time.

She had won her past 16 matches at majors, allowing her to lift the trophies at the US Open last September and Australian Open in January. That run also included two victories at Roland Garros after trailing by a set and a break each time.

“I could see,” Siniakova said, “that she’s not so confident like she was.”

But Osaka said that she felt tired and was dealing with a headache.

Her mounting mistakes just kept accumulating against Siniakova, who never had reached the fourth round in singles in 18 previous Slam appearances. She is better known for her doubles success, winning championships at the French Open and Wimbledon last year and topping the rankings.

She is the first woman ranked No. 1 in doubles to defeat the singles No. 1 in more than 30 years, according to the WTA: The last occasion was when Martina Navratilova beat Steffi Graf at the 1987 US Open.

“I mean, it’s incredible. It’s amazing. It’s the thing I couldn’t believe,” said Siniakova, who will face 2017 US Open runner-up Madison Keys next. “It was my best tennis.”

It decidedly was not Osaka’s, who quickly gathered her things and headed to the Court Suzanne Lenglen locker room when the lopsided match was finished.

She wound up with a hard-to-believe 38 unforced errors; Siniakova made only 13.

SPEED OF HARD COURTS

Clay has never been Osaka’s best surface. Her power game is served better by the speed of hard courts, in particular. That’s why she still has not made it to the round of 16 at the French Open.

“It’s weird, but I think me losing is probably the best thing that could have happened. I think I was overthinking this calendar Slam. For me, this is something that I have wanted to do forever,” Osaka said. “But I think I have to think about it like: If it was that easy, everyone would have done it. I just have to keep training hard and put myself in a position again to do it, hopefully.”

In men’s action, No. 1 Novak Djokovic stretched his Slam winning streak to 24 matches as he seeks his fourth title in a row, eliminating 147th-ranked qualifier Salvatore Caruso of Italy 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.