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Naomi Osaka’s French Open return ends in first round


Naomi Osaka French Open

Japan’s Naomi Osaka reacts as she plays against US’ Amanda Anisimova during their women’s singles match on day two of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Suzanne-Lenglen in Paris on May 23, 2022. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

Naomi Osaka was knocked out of the French Open in the first round on Monday, 12 months after controversially quitting the tournament.

The error-plagued Japanese star was defeated 7-5, 6-4 by Amanda Anisimova of the United States, serving up eight double faults and committing 29 unforced errors.

Former world number one and four-time major winner Osaka withdrew from Roland Garros in 2021 when she refused to honor mandatory media commitments before revealing she had been suffering from depression.

Osaka was fined and threatened with a Grand Slam ban for her opposition to news conferences which she likened to “kicking people when they’re down”.

“It’s tough to see Naomi Osaka in the first round so I knew it wouldn’t be easy,” said 27th-seeded Anisimova.

“I knew I had to play my best tennis and the conditions were not easy.”

On a cold, damp day on Court Suzanne Lenglen, there were four breaks of serve in the first six games.

Osaka, who has never made it past the third round in Paris, led briefly for 5-4 but was broken for the third time in the 11th game on the back of her fourth double fault.

Anisimova, the 27th seed who ended Osaka’s Australian Open title defense in January, served it out to love as the Japanese star was left to rue her 17 unforced errors in the opener.

Osaka, with her left ankle taped to protect an injury which forced her to sit out of the Italian Open, was broken again in the seventh game of the second set.

Anisimova, who made the semifinals in 2019, secured victory on a third match point with a sharp forehand down the line.

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