Naomi Osaka will not win an Olympic medal on home soil after a surprise defeat to Czech Marketa Vondrousova.
The four-time Grand Slam champion lost in straight sets, with Vondrousova producing a superb display to win 6-1 6-4. Osaka is the second major scalp the Czech has claimed at the Tokyo Games, having already defeated the Dutch player Kiki Bertens.
Osaka has been one of the faces of the Tokyo 2020 Games, and she had the honour of lighting the Olympic cauldron in last week’s opening ceremony.
However, the Japanese player was unable to convert the national goodwill into a victory, a surprise given her dominance on a hard court in recent years. Her display was uncharacteristically sloppy, full of unforced errors, and it only took a few minutes for Voundrousova to develop a 4-0 lead in the first set. As the errors continued, the Czech took the first set 6-1.
Osaka attempted to mount a comeback, establishing a quick break in the second set, but Vondrousova swiftly took the upper hand, peppering Osaka with her trademark delicate drop shots. After an extended final game, two backhand errors from the Japanese player sealed her fate.
After her defeat, 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.”
Vondrousova will play either Spain’s Paula Badosa or Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska in the last eight of the women’s tournament. Ukrainian fourth seed Elina Svitolina is now the highest-ranked player left in the event.