After a testing start to the French Open, Naomi Osaka saw her hopes of winning a third straight Grand Slam title come to a crashing halt against Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic. Osaka, who had come to within two points of defeat in the first round before again having to rally from a set down in the second, made a poor start to the match against Siniakova and things only got worse for her from there.
Siniakova took the first set six games to four before breaking early in the second. Osaka tried to stay in the fight, but struggled to even find the court and Siniakova broke through again to take a commanding 6-4 5-2 lead. She had never before beaten a player ranked inside the top ten in singles, but is a two-time Grand Slam champion in doubles, winning the Roland Garros title last season, and currently occupies the rankings penthouse in that discipline.
She showed no signs of nerves to serve out the match to 15 and claim her place in the second week. With her section of the draw now looking very open, Siniakova will go on to face the winner of 14th seed Madison Keys and Anna Blinkova in what looks to be a winnable match. Osaka, meanwhile, will have time to reflect on a disappointing clay-court campaign before she heads across the channel for the grass-court season.
She will at least remain world #1 for the foreseeable future after world #2 Kristyna Pliskova also lost in the third round. But Osaka, after such a superb start to the season, will surely hope to rediscover the sort of dominant tennis that took her to the US Open and Australian Open titles. She has yet to show her best tennis on the grass however and as a result, it may not be until the North American summer hard court swing before the Osaka of old reappears.
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