Thursday, April 18, 2024

Osaka falls at first hurdle to Garcia on Grand Slam return


Share post:


MELBOURNE, Jan 15: Naomi Osaka waved to the crowd and walked back up the players’ tunnel past the images of former champions after her Grand Slam comeback ended in a first-round loss at the Australian Open to 16th-seeded Caroline Garcia.
It was too soon into her comeback for the former two-time winner to have a chance of adding a third title in Melbourne this time.
Three matches into her return from 15 months off the tour, and six months after the birth of her daughter, Shai, Osaka lost 6-4, 7-6 (2) in a tight encounter at Rod Laver Arena on Monday night.
Garcia did not give Osaka a look at a breakpoint in the match. Most of the rallies were short. The service holds were comfortable except for one in the first set. That was all the difference.
“I have a lot of respect for Naomi as a person and as a player 15 months she’s been away,” Garcia said. “I’m very glad to see her back. Six months after giving birth, she’s playing quite amazing already. We have to watch out.”
Osaka was one of three past Australian Open champions who returned to play at Melbourne Park for the first time as moms, joining 2016 winner Angelique Kerber and 2018 champion Caroline Wozniacki.
In the opening match on Rod Laver, US Open champion Coco Gauff needed just 60 minutes to advance.
Gauff, with increased confidence in her serve thanks to some advice from Andy Roddick, began her bid for back-to-back Grand Slam singles titles with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. The 19-year-old American, who won her first major at the U.S. Open in September, said she was a little nervous to start.
“I think I did well returning, then I found my serve toward the end (of the set),” she said. “When I was nervous at 3-3, I told myself: ‘I feel good, I look good, so just have fun’. That was able to relax me a little bit’.”
Gauff dropped just one point on her serve in the second set and credited Roddick, saying “he’s probably one of the best servers in history.”
Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova didn’t make it past the first round, losing 6-1, 6-2 to Dayana Yastremska and struggling with a hip injury.
A third 16-year-old reached the second round, with Mirra Andreeva beating 29-year-old Bernarda Pera 7-5, 6-2 to set up a second-round match with sixth-seeded Ons Jabeur, a three-time runner-up at Grand Slams.
Alina Korneeva and Brenda Fruhvirtova, both also 16, advanced after their first Grand Slam main draw wins on Sunday.
Australia’s newest top-10 player, Alex de Minaur, advanced after a truncated night match on Rod Laver Arena. He was leading 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic 6-7 (6), 6-3, 2-0 when the big-serving Canadian retired from the match with an injury.
Third-seeded Daniil Medvedev, the 2021 and 2022 finalist at Melbourne Park and at last year’s U.S. Open, also advanced when his opponent retired from their match.
Medvedev had dropped the first set but was leading 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 1-0 when the 22-year-old Terence Atmane quit because of cramps.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost last year’s Australian final to Novak Djokovic, advanced with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 win over Zizou Bergs.
Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion and three-time Grand Slam winner, was beaten 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0 by Adrian Mannarino. That left 10-time winner Djokovic as the only Australian champion left in the men’s draw.
Andy Murray stood on the hallowed grounds of Melbourne Park, contemplating a bitter pill of defeat that may have signaled the end of an era. The five-time Australian Open finalist, once a gladiator on these courts, found himself grappling with a harsh reality after a disheartening first-round exit. Tomas Martin Etcheverry, the No. 30 seed, emerged as the architect of Murray’s potential farewell, securing a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory.
The Scot, aged 36 and equipped with a metal hip, wore the defeat on his sleeve, and in a candid admission, hinted that this might be his final bow at Melbourne Park. “It’s a definite possibility that will be the last time I play here,” Murray revealed, his words carrying the weight of contemplation. The disappointment of the loss was palpable as he reflected on the stark contrast between this year’s performance and the heroic battles of the previous season. (Agencies)


Related articles

Elaborate security arrangements in place for LS polls tomorrow

SIX KILLINGS IN STATE SINCE ANNOUNCEMENT OF POLLS By Our Reporter SHILLONG, April 17: Elaborate security arrangements have been made...

Now, ex-KHADC MDC files FIR against Ardent

By Our Reporter SHILLONG, April 17: Two days after Voice of the People Party (VPP) chief Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit...

High-voltage campaigning concludes

By Our Reporter SHILLONG, April 17: Intense campaigning for the two Lok Sabha constituencies – Shillong and Tura –...

Charred remains of 3 Assam residents discovered in EGH

From Our Correspondent Williamnagar, April 17: In an incident that has sent shockwaves across both Meghalaya and Assam, the...