By Mukwuzi Joseph
Naomi Osaka will leave the Tokyo 2020 Olympics without a medal, as the four-time major champion was upset in the third round Tuesday by Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.
Vondrousova, a 2019 French Open finalist, advances with the 6-1, 6-4 win.
Osaka — who had 32 unforced errors in the match — isn’t the first big name to lose early in the women’s draw. World No. 1 and Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty, of Australia lost in the opening round to Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo. No. 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus also made an early exit, losing to Croatia’s Donna Vekic in the second round.
But this upset is arguably much bigger than those. The face of these Olympics, and on her best surface, this is the first time Osaka has lost on a hard court before the quarterfinals since the 2020 Australian Open, when she lost to American Coco Gauff in the third round. All seven of Osaka’s career titles have come on hard courts.
The 23-year-old Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron to officially open the Games. Born in Osaka, Japan, Osaka — who has a Haitian father and Japanese mother — moved to the United States at age 3. She’s ranked No. 2 in the world.