Tokyo 2020: Naomi Osaka felt pressure was ‘a bit much’ after Olympics exit

The 23-year-old was beaten by Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic

Japan’s Naomi Osaka was beaten by Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova in their women’s singles match at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images

Japan’s Naomi Osaka was beaten by Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova in their women’s singles match at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images

 

Naomi Osaka admitted she struggled to handle the pressure of carrying a nation’s hopes in her home Olympics after losing in the third round of the women’s singles to Marketa Vondrousova in Tokyo.

The 23-year-old had hoped to play a starring role in the Games on the court as well as off it but lighting the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony will remain the high point.

Osaka had looked good in her first two matches, particularly against Viktorija Golubic on Monday, but former French Open finalist Vondrousova was a step up in level and the young Czech produced an excellent performance under the roof at the Ariake Tennis Park to win 6-1 6-4.

Vondrousova mixed her trademark drop shots with big serves and powerful groundstrokes and defended brilliantly when Osaka got her game going in the second set.

The four-time grand-slam champion did not move as well as she can, perhaps a legacy of the eight-week break she took for mental health reasons prior to this tournament.

Osaka said: “I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this. I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in the Olympics before and for the first year (it) was a bit much. I think I’m glad with how I played, with taking that break that I had.

Tokyo 2020

Full coverage of the Olympic Games in Japan READ MORE

“I’ve taken long breaks before and I’ve managed to do well. I’m not saying that I did bad right now, but I do know that my expectations were a lot higher.

“I feel like my attitude wasn’t that great because I don’t really know how to cope with that pressure so that’s the best that I could have done in this situation.”

Osaka initially appeared to have left the site without talking to the media — in her social media post ahead of the French Open where she announced she would not be talking to the press she likened press conferences after losses to kicking someone when they are down.

However, she returned to answer questions and admitted it was a painful defeat, saying: “I’m disappointed in every loss, but I feel like this one sucks more than the others.”

Osaka had won 25 of her last 26 matches on hard courts, winning grand slam titles at the US Open and Australian Open, and, particularly given the early defeat for Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty, the stage seemed set for her to claim arguably the biggest title of them all.

But instead it was 22-year-old Vondrousova who reached her first Olympic quarter-final, where she will take on either Paula Badosa of Spain or Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska.

Osaka, who had hoped to become the first Japanese tennis player to win Olympic gold, had no answer to Vondrousova in the first set.

She responded well at the start of the second with a break of serve but was quickly pegged back and, although she saved two match points at 5-4, another followed and Osaka sent a backhand wide.

She will now turn her attentions to the defence of her title in New York, although Osaka added: “I am a person who wings a lot of things. That is either a really good thing or a really bad thing.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas gained revenge for his Wimbledon loss to Frances Tiafoe by beating the American 6-3 6-4.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.