American Amanda Anisimova eliminated four-time major champion Naomi Osaka in one of the key matches of the first round of the French Open.
Anisimova, the 27th seed, prevailed 7-5, 6-4 in a rematch of a close Australian Open third round won by the American.
Osaka struggled with her serve – eight double faults, first-serve percentage of 45 – and had 29 unforced errors to 13 winners.
Osaka hasn’t been ranked after taking two breaks from the sport last year, including withdrawing from the French Open ahead of their second-round match.
At the time, she announced that she was suffering from “long bouts of depression”, a day after the tennis Grand Slam tournament threatened disqualification or suspension if she continued to skip press conferences, as she had announced it before the event, citing mental health.
“For the most part, I think I’m fine,” Osaka said last week after deciding to hold a pre-tournament press conference. “When I arrived here, I was very worried. … I was afraid that there would be people that I was offending in some way and that I would meet them. But I think everyone world has been really positive, for the most part.
She entered Roland Garros with a lack of match preparation on clay, including withdrawing from her last tournament due to an Achilles tendon injury.
“There’s no way I’m not playing this tournament,” she said last week. “Of course you have to kind of manage things, but at the same time I’m going to take some painkillers, that’s how it is.
“There are a limited number of years that I could play tennis, so I have to make the most of it.”
The two-time US Open and Australian Open champion’s best result in France has been the third round in 2016, 2018 and 2019. She has never beaten a clay-court player ranked as high as Anisimova.
“It’s been a really good time,” this season on clay, Osaka said last week. “I honestly defended all the points I had to [from 2021]so I’m fine.
Anisimova, who broke through in 2019 to qualify for the Roland-Garros semi-finals aged 17, is at her highest ranking since September 2020.
She gets the former top 20 player Donna Vekic of Croatia in the second round with the No. 4 Maria Sakkari of Greece potentially pending in the third.
OlympicTalk is enabled Apple News. Promote us!
Ariarne Titmus breaks Katie Ledecky’s world record as trainer Dean Boxall bursts… Men’s 100m showdown blocked by DQ at Birmingham Diamond League Rashida Ellis bounces back from the Olympics and wins the world boxing title
Naomi Osaka leaves Roland-Garros in the first round originally appeared on NBCSports.com