Australian Open: Defending champion Osaka suffers third-round exit at hands of Anisimova

By Sports Desk January 21, 2022

Defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka squandered two match points as she suffered a shock third-round exit at the hands of unseeded Amanda Anisimova on Friday.

Osaka eased past Camila Osorio and Madison Brengle in straight sets in the first two rounds but fell to a 4-6 6-3 7-6 (10-5) loss to Anisimova in a thrilling contest.

Anisimova, who won her second career title at Melbourne Summer Set 2 earlier this month and is now 8-0 for the season, will face top seed Ash Barty in the last 16.

Two-time Australian Open winner Osaka had won 24 of her past 25 matches in Melbourne and made a fast start against Anisimova by breaking her opponent in the first game.

She held serve to ease ahead on Margaret Court Arena, but Anisimova battled back well in the second set.

The world number 60 broke Osaka in the fourth game with a sublime disguised backhand drop and served out the set in a relatively straightforward manner.

Anisimova continued to dig in and saved two match points in the 10th game to help pave the way for a decisive first-to-10 tie-break.

Osaka had no response to her opponent's accurate hitting as she fell 3-0 behind and, while she did bring it back to 3-2 and 5-4, Anisimova took five of the next six points to advance in a big upset.

DATA SLAM: Osaka outgunned by Anisimova

Osaka had dropped just one set in her first five matches this season and looked in the mood as she raced ahead against Anisimova.

But the American youngster fired in 11 aces and hit more than twice the number of winners that Osaka managed (46 to 21) to pull off the victory.

With this defeat, Osaka has now failed to defend any of her four major crowns, with Victoria Azarenka the last women's player to do so at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Anisimova – 46/44
Osaka – 21/45

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Anisimova – 11/8
Osaka – 5/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Anisimova – 1/8
Osaka – 1/10

Related items

  • Juvan's aggression pays off with stunning win over Pliskova Juvan's aggression pays off with stunning win over Pliskova

    Aggression was the key for Kaja Juvan as she claimed the second top-10 win of her career, stunning Karolina Pliskova to reach her first WTA Tour final at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

    World number 81 Juvan knocked off world number eight Pliskova 6-2 7-5 in just one hour and 26 minutes.

    Speaking afterwards, the 21-year-old said: "This whole year, I feel like I've been so close to beating these players.

    "I was like, 'OK, let's go for it, let's be aggressive, I can do it, I'm always so close.' 

    "We prepared well, and I think I stuck to being aggressive and trying to make the points, not just waiting for her, and that worked at the end.

    "I felt like I was really fast, and I felt really strong, so I wasn't too worried if it's going to go to the third set, if it's going to be a long match. I relaxed and tried to stick to my plan, because I thought at the end it's going to be worth it, no matter what happens."

    Juvan will face three-time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber in the final.

    Kerber won the first set of her semi-final against Oceane Dodin on a tie-break and broke in the opening game of the second before her opponent retired.

    At the Grand Prix Sar La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Rabat, Martina Trevisan beat fellow Italian Lucia Bronzetti in straight sets to book a final with Claire Liu, who won without hitting a ball as fifth seed Anna Bondar withdrew because of a shoulder injury.

  • Ruud en route to another Geneva title, Norrie nears Lyon redemption Ruud en route to another Geneva title, Norrie nears Lyon redemption

    Casper Ruud is one match away from successfully retaining his Geneva Open title, while Cameron Norrie has a shot at redemption in Lyon. 

    World number nine Ruud was a 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 winner against Reilly Opelka on Friday, putting him on the brink of a second ATP Tour crown of the season and a sixth in his past seven ATP 250 events on clay. 

    The Norwegian made the semi-finals at the Internazionali d'Italia last week and maintained his momentum ahead of the French Open. 

    He converted the match's only breakpoint in the penultimate game and sealed the deal in the next, dropping just five of 46 points behind his first serve throughout.

    Ruud will take on Joao Sousa – who was the runner-up to Thomaz Bellucci in Geneva seven years ago – in the final after the Portuguese defeated Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-2. 

    Norrie will also be hopeful of making up for a past final defeat after winning his last-four encounter with Holger Rune at the Lyon Open. 

    The Briton was a set and a break up before Rune recovered to force a decider, which Norrie took for a 6-2 5-7 6-4 triumph in a little over two hours.

    Norrie was beaten by Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year's final but it is Alex Molcan who stands between him and the trophy this time around. 

    Molcan, who is yet to win a Tour-level title, claimed an impressive victory 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 win over Alex de Minaur. 

  • Nadal believes in French Open prospects despite fitness struggles Nadal believes in French Open prospects despite fitness struggles

    Rafael Nadal believes he can win a 14th French Open title despite other players arriving at Roland Garros in better condition, as he labelled the venue the "most important" place in his tennis career.

    Nadal won a record 21st grand slam title when he recovered from two-sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in a thrilling Australian Open final in January, and has won 13 of the last 17 editions of the year's second slam.

    However, Nadal admitted he was "living with an injury" after falling to a third-round defeat to Denis Shapovalov at the Internazionali d'Italia earlier this month, and will need to overcome a tough draw to build on his fine record in Paris, with Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz both on his side of the bracket.

    Ahead of his first-round clash with Australia's Jordan Thompson, Nadal insisted that while he was not the favourite to triumph at Roland Garros, he hoped to replicate his performance at the year's opening grand slam in order to give himself a chance.

    "I just enjoyed all my tennis career to be where I am, and I always feel very privileged and lucky to have the chance to enjoy all the experiences that I am enjoying and I am living because of this sport," Nadal said.

    "And here I am in Roland Garros, another year. It is a place I know well. It is a place that I consider the most important one in my tennis career, without a doubt, and with a lot of positive memories.

    "Today, it looks difficult and there are players that are in better shape than me, without a doubt, that is true today. But you never know what can happen in the next couple of days.

    "The same happened in Australia, and I put myself in a position to have a chance, and here is no different. Things can change quick, and the only thing that I can do is try to be ready if that change happens."

     

    Pressed on the effects of the foot injury which troubled him in Rome, Nadal said he is feeling better, but maintained it was a case of managing, rather than curing, the pain.

    "What happened in Rome is something that happened very often in my practices," he added. "I was suffering after that for a couple of days, but I feel better.

    "The pain is there always. It's not going to disappear now. It's about if the pain is high and strong enough to allow me to play with real chances [of winning] or not.

    "But in my case, is something that I live every day, so it's nothing new for me and is not a big surprise. 

    "I am here just to play tennis and to try to make the best result possible here in Roland Garros. And if I didn't believe that this thing can happen, probably I would not be here."

    Meanwhile, the stars appear to have aligned for Nadal, with his beloved Real Madrid facing Liverpool in the Champions League final on May 28 just a short journey across Paris at the Stade de France.

    Nadal, a known supporter of Los Blancos who requested not to play at the same time as their semi-final win over Manchester City while competing at the Madrid Open earlier this month, revealed he has already made plans to attend the conveniently located contest. 

    "Well, I am here to play Roland Garros more than anything else. But of course, I have my tickets already," he smiled.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.