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Tokyo Olympics: Naomi Osaka loses to Marketa Vondrousova in the women’s singles

Czech Marketa Vondrousova won in easy sets in Tokyo, while Malaysian superstar Naomi Osaka made a surprise exit from her country’s Olympic Games.

The 23-year-old Osaka is one of the faces of the Olympics in the Japanese capital and had the honor of lighting the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony last week.

However, the four-time Grand Slam winner could not reward herself with a medal, losing 1-6, 4-6 to the world number 42 in the third round.

“I definitely felt a lot of pressure this time,” said the world number two.

“I think it’s probably because I’ve never played in the Olympics before and for a first-year it’s too much.”

Osaka, the reigning US Open and Australian Open champion, had won 25 of her previous 26 matches on hard court.

It was Osaka’s first match since withdrawing from the French Open in June, when she revealed she had gone through “a long period of depression” since winning her first Grand Slam title in 2018.

“I think I’m happy with the way I played, happy with the break I took,” she said.

“I’ve taken long breaks before but I’ve managed to do well.

“I don’t want to say I’m not doing well now, but I know my expectations are much higher.

“I don’t think my attitude is that good because I don’t really know how to handle this pressure, so this is the best I can do in this situation.”

After impressive wins in the first two rounds, Osaka looked to be in the hunt for gold but looked a little rusty against former French Open finalist Vondrousova, committing 32 unforced errors.

The 22-year-old Czech hit 18 winners against 10 unforced errors and converted five of her 11 break points in the match.

The draw in Osaka for the women’s singles was extended after top seed Ashley Barty of Australia was eliminated in the first round.

Vondrousova will face either Spain’s Paula Badosa or Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska in the last 16.

Ukrainian fourth seed Elina Svitolina was the tournament’s top-ranked player but had to come from behind to beat Greek Maria Sakkari 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.

Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic beat French Open winner Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, while Garbine Muguruza defeated Alison van Uytvanck 6-4, 6-1.

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