Tagged in: grand slam

Serena Williams loses first-round match at Wimbledon to Harmony Tan

Serena Williams, playing her first competitive singles match in 364 days, was handed another devastating early exit at Wimbledon with a 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) loss to Harmony Tan on Tuesday that took more than three hours and a 10-point third-set tiebreak to decide.

“Today I gave all I could do, you know, today,” a dejected Williams told a packed room of reporters after the match. “Maybe tomorrow I could have gave more. Maybe a week ago I could have gave more. But today was what I could do.

“At some point, you have to be able to be OK with that. And that’s all I can do. I can’t change time or anything, so, that’s all I could do on this particular day.”

Playing Tan — who is ranked No. 115 and was making her main draw debut at the tournament — in front of an adoring crowd on Centre Court, Williams simultaneously showed signs of rust alongside glimpses of her signature brilliance.

When it was over, both players were given a standing ovation from those in the stands. The 40-year-old Williams, the owner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles, waved several times as she walked off the court and twirled before disappearing in the exit.

There has been much speculation as to Williams’ retirement, and she didn’t do much to dispel such speculation after Tuesday’s match, giving vague answers to multiple questions about her future.

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“That’s a question I can’t answer,” Williams said after the loss. “Like, I don’t know. I feel like, you know, I don’t know. Who knows? Who knows where I’ll pop up.”

Williams hadn’t played competitively at singles since being forced to retire from her first-round match at the All England Club in 2021 due to what she later revealed to be a torn hamstring. While she had initially hoped to return in time for the US Open last year, the recovery was far lengthier than she had anticipated, and she took a break to give herself time to heal.

But she couldn’t escape the lingering disappointment of her 2021 Wimbledon exit.

“It was a lot of motivation, to be honest,” Williams said before this tournament got underway. “It was always something since the match ended that was always on my mind. So it was a tremendous amount of motivation for that.”

She decided in the spring to make a return to the All England Club, after a whirlwind year full of recovery and off-the-court interests and pursuits. She started her competitive comeback last week in doubles at Eastbourne, alongside Ons Jabeur, to great fanfare.

The two reached the semifinals before they were forced to withdraw due to a knee injury for Jabeur, but Williams still considered she had gotten some valuable match experience.

Still, Williams needed the first several games of Tuesday’s match versus Tan to rediscover her form, and her early play was riddled with errors.

“I had some chances to win that first set,” Williams said. “You know, [it] didn’t work out, so … yeah, it was just, yeah, different, totally different for me.”

But as she has done countless times throughout her career, Williams fought back with a dominant performance in the second set, including winning a marathon 30-point second game.

She looked to be in control in the third, holding a 3-1 lead, but Tan came back to win the next three games. From there, it was a battle in which the crowd seemed to live and breathe with every point, and both players reacted emphatically throughout.

It reached a fever pitch when Williams saved match point at 5-6 to ultimately force a deciding tiebreak.

In the first-to-10 tiebreak, Williams jumped out to a 4-0 lead. However, in the final moments, it slipped out of her control, and Tan dominated.

If this is the end for Williams, it will mark the conclusion of one of the greatest careers in the sport. With 23 major titles, including seven at the All England Club, Williams has the most ever by any player in the Open Era.

She has been seeking to tie Margaret Court’s long-standing record of 24, the most in history, since returning from childbirth in 2018. Since then, Williams has played in four finals in those 14 majors, including at Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019, but has fallen short each time.

Williams didn’t completely rule out an appearance at the US Open later this summer, however.

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Rafael Nadal enters Wimbledon on good footing after procedure to relieve pain

Rafael Nadal on Saturday stated the procedure he had on his chronic foot injury after Roland Garros has meant he is largely pain-free, but he is unsure how long the treatment will be effective.

“The feeling and overall feelings are positive, no, because I am in a positive way in terms of pain, and that’s the main thing,” Nadal said.

Nadal has been suffering with Muller-Weiss syndrome, a rare condition which causes chronic pain in his left foot. He numbed the injury at Roland Garros by injecting the nerve to allow him to play.

The injury causes him to be in pain when walking, let alone playing. After Roland Garros, Nadal underwent a radiofrequency nerve ablation, which targets the specific nerve leading to the painful area of his foot.

At the time, Nadal said the success of that procedure would dictate whether he was going to play at Wimbledon, as he was not willing to again undergo daily injections.

If the procedure didn’t work, Nadal said he then would have either required major surgery or would have looked to alternative solutions or outcomes.

However, it has proven effective enough to allow Nadal to keep his charge for a calendar Grand Slam, having already taken the Australian and French Open titles this year.

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“Well, is obvious that if I am here, it’s because things are going better. If not, I would not be here,” Nadal said. “So quite happy about the things, how evolved. I can’t be super happy because I don’t know what can happen.

“First of all, I can walk normal most of the days, almost every single day. That’s for me the main issue. When I wake up, I don’t have this pain that I was having for the last year and a half, so quite happy about that. And second thing, practicing. I have been in overall better, honestly, no? Since the last two weeks, I didn’t have not one day of these terrible days that I can’t move at all. Of course, days better; days a little bit worse.”

Nadal has won 22 Grand Slam singles titles and is aiming to win his third Wimbledon crown entering Tuesday’s first-round match versus Francisco Cerundolo.

He said he will try to park any thoughts of the foot injury over the next fortnight.

“I can’t tell you if I going to be in that positive moment for one week, for two days, or for three months,” Nadal said. “Of course, the treatment that I did, didn’t fix my injury. Not improving my injury at all but can take out a little bit the pain. That’s the main goal.

“Sometimes the things in the medical world, mathematics is not predictable 100%. But in theory that can help the foot because it’s about the nerve. You touch the nerve, so then the nerves is like asleep in some way for a while, but then recovers. So how long the nerve is going to be that way, I can’t tell you. It’s something that we need to discover.”

But this procedure is a good step, and has brought a smile back to Nadal’s face.

“Today I feel good. Happy for that,” Nadal said. “… Tennis is the second part of your life. Probably the most toughest part is having pain on your life on a daily basis. The problem that I have is I have pain walking every single day. That sometimes affects you to your happiness and in some way the positive and how the attitude is not that positive all the time.

“[It is] positive now. Let’s see what can happen in the future.”

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23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams skips practice ahead of doubles match that will mark competitive return

Serena Williams skipped her arranged practice session at Eastbourne with late notice on Monday as the 23-time Grand Slam champion prepares to make her return to competition after a year away.

Williams trained at a nearby club over the weekend and was expected to have an on-site session at Devonshire Park ahead of playing doubles with Ons Jabeur. Their first match is set for Tuesday versus Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzkova.

Williams, 40, who hasn’t competed anywhere since she was injured in the first round of Wimbledon last year, was awarded a wild card for singles at the All England Club.

Jabeur stated it was “unbelievable” to have been asked by Williams to be part of her journey back to competition at the Wimbledon warm-up. “I’m a good secret keeper — yes, I’ve known [since] before the French Open,” said the No. 3-ranked Jabeur, who arrived at Eastbourne after winning the title in Berlin on Sunday.

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“Many players were jealous because I’m playing with her. Honestly, Serena is Serena. She is a legend and always will be.”

Jabeur said she is hoping to learn “even like 2% from it.”

“Now I’m joking with other doubles players,” she said. “I was like, ‘If you have minus 20 grand slams, don’t even ask me to play doubles with you anymore.'”

Jabeur has pulled out of the singles at Eastbourne following her run to the title in Germany and will play only the doubles. Still, she’ll likely be kept busy this week given her partner.

“I cannot wait to see her; I haven’t seen her yet,” Jabeur said of Williams. “Hopefully we will get together and talk a little bit and see, because I’m really pumped. I want to win this doubles and why not win the title here, you know?”

Among those to advance in the singles Monday were three qualifiers — Donna Vekic, Kirsten Flipkens and Lesia Tsurenko — and a wild card in Britain’s Jodie Burrage. American player Alison Riske was beaten by Magda Linette of Poland 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-6 (4).

In the men’s event, sixth-seeded Alex de Minaur of Australia started his title defense by beating Cristian Garin 6-3, 6-3. Two Americans — fifth-seeded Reilly Opelka and seventh-seeded Frances Tiafoe — lost in the first round on Monday.

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Iga Swiatek routs Daria Kasatkina to reach French Open final

Iga Swiatek continued her march toward a second French Open title in three years when she wrecked Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1 to reach the final and tie Serena Williams for the second-longest winning streak of this century.

Swiatek’s 34th win in a row puts her one victory from winning her second Roland Garros title and matching Venus Williams for the longest streak on the tour since 2000.

Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, has not lost since February and has dropped only two sets in her past four tournaments.

“I’m just trying to treat these matches as any other matches,” Swiatek said, “because it is stressful, and I accept that. But I want to keep doing the same work.”

The world No. 1 conceded an early break Thursday, but from 2-2 in the opener, Swiatek dropped only three points the rest of the first set, using her heavy forehand, quick-strike ability and all-court excellence to seize control with a five-game run.

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She then won the last nine points and clinched the triumph with her only ace of the 64-minute match.

The 20th-seeded Kasatkina, a first-time Grand Slam semifinalist, has two career wins over reigning No. 1 players but hit 24 unforced errors to Swiatek’s 13. Swiatek concluded with 22 winners, more than twice as many as Kasatkina’s 10.

She will meet American teenager Coco Gauff, the 18th seed, who defeated Italy’s Martina Trevisan 6-3, 6-1, in Saturday’s final.

“From what I see on court, she’s developing every year, basically,” said Swiatek of Gauff. “And when I see her, I tend to forget that she’s 18.”

With a win, Swiatek, who turned 21 on Tuesday, would become only the fourth woman in the Open era (since 1968) to win multiple French Open titles at age 21 or younger, joining Monica Seles (who won three), Steffi Graf and Chris Evert.

Swiatek again played with a ribbon in the colors of the Ukrainian flag pinned to her hat while facing her Russian adversary. Swiatek improved to 41-3 this season, with four of the wins coming against Kasatkina.

She has now won her past 13 contests against foes in the top 20 in the WTA rankings, conceding one set along the way.

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Casper Ruud first man from Norway to reach Grand Slam semifinal; will face Marin Cilic for berth in French Open final

Casper Ruud has become the first man from Norway to reach the semifinals at a Grand Slam tournament, getting that far at the French Open by defeating 19-year-old Holger Rune of Denmark 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3.

The eighth-seeded Ruud’s 3-hour, 15-minute triumph at Court Philippe Chatrier began Wednesday night and ended after midnight.

Ruud, 23, leads the ATP with 65 wins in clay-court matches since the start of the 2020 season. That includes defeating 2019 French Open junior champion Rune four times.

Ruud ended up with just one more winner than the big-hitting Rune, 55-54, and that edge arrived on the very last point with a forehand that originally was called out before the chair umpire overruled and said the ball touched the line.

The big difference: Ruud made only 24 unforced errors, while Rune had 46.

Their match got a bit testy, with Ruud telling Rune he didn’t appreciate him questioning an obvious officiating call.

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“I told him, ‘What, do you need to check every mark?’ and he told me to be quiet. I asked him, ‘Maybe that’s not the greatest thing to tell your opponent to be quiet when I’m talking to you?’ And he said it once more. So that was all that happened. And I didn’t exchange any more words with him after this,” Ruud said. “So that’s what he wants to say and behave? That’s up to him.”

Rune confirmed Ruud’s account of their interaction.

Rune had never attained a Grand Slam match until last week.

“Obviously disappointed that I couldn’t do better today. But still I have to look at the two weeks — it was great,” Rune said. “I mean, I played some good matches. A lot of positives to take.”

Ruud will meet 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic on Friday for a berth in the final. The other men’s semifinal features 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, who eliminated Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals, versus No. 3 Alexander Zverev.

Cilic is 33, nearly eight seasons past his one Grand Slam title at the 2014 US Open — and, until Wednesday, more than four full years removed from his most recent trip to the semifinals of a major tournament.

If he keeps serving like this, there’s no reason to think about quitting tennis anytime soon.

Cilic delivered 33 aces to get to the final four at the French Open for the first time, edging No. 7 seed Andrey Rublev 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10-2) in a 4-hour, 10-minute test of strength and will.

“Andrey played incredibly well. One had to go down,” the 20th-seeded Cilic said, “and today was my day.”

The Croatian is the fifth active man to complete a full set of at least one semifinal run at all four Slam events, joining Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, each of whom has been ranked No. 1 and won multiple majors.

Cilic was the runner-up to Federer at Wimbledon in 2017 and the Australian Open in 2018; the latter had been Cilic’s most recent trip to a Slam semifinal.

He might be a decade older than his next opponent, but Cilic feels good these days.

When he had a physical exam at the end of 2021, he said, his doctor told him: “Your body’s like 25.”

Continued Cilic: “Don’t tell my wife I’m saying this, (but) I might be playing another 10 years.”

All kidding aside, he said: “How long? We’ll see. But definitely three, four years, if I can be competitive like this.”

He dropped Rublev’s career mark in major quarterfinals to 0-5. That was thanks in part to Cilic’s overwhelming ability to strike serves and groundstrokes for winners — 88 in all, more than twice as many as Rublev’s total of 35.

“It was hard emotionally, because he played some games very well,” Cilic said. “When you play this long, there’s always be some ups and down, so I had to keep my focus.”

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Roger Federer plans return to tournament play at Swiss Indoors

Roger Federer intends to return to tournament tennis after what will have been more than a year away from the tour by playing at the Swiss Indoors in October.

The event in Basel revealed in a statement posted on its website on Tuesday that the 20-time Grand Slam champion “has officially entered the tournament and will appear on the entry list with the protected ATP ranking” of No. 9.

His agent, Tony Godsick, confirmed Federer’s plan to The Associated Press.

Federer’s first match there is scheduled for Oct. 25, according to the website. The Swiss star has not played a competitive match since losing to Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-0 in the Wimbledon quarterfinals on July 7.

Soon after that defeat, Federer had surgery to repair damage to his meniscus and cartilage in his right knee — the third time in a span of 1½ years that knee was operated on.

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Federer, 40, has won a men’s record eight championships at the All England Club.

He and Novak Djokovic are tied for the second-most overall major tennis titles acquired by a man; they trail Rafael Nadal, who has 21.

Federer said in an interview with a Swiss newspaper in November that he expected to miss Wimbledon this year — it starts on June 27 — and was not sure when, if ever, he might be able to play again at a high level, although he did “want to see one last time what I’m capable of as a professional tennis player.”

In February, Federer and Nadal announced they were both planning to participate in the Laver Cup in London on Sept. 23-25.

That would mark Federer’s return to action for the first time since last July — albeit not at a full-fledged tournament but at a team event founded by his management company.

Federer has won the Swiss Indoors trophy 10 times. The tournament will return this year after being called off in 2020 and 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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World No. 1 Ash Barty, 25, announces retirement from tennis: ‘I’m so happy and I’m so ready’

Australia’s Ash Barty, the No. 1-ranked women’s tennis player in the world, has announced her retirement from the sport at the age of 25.

Barty stated in an emotional video posted Wednesday local time on social media: “I’m so happy and I’m so ready. I just know at the moment in my heart for me as a person this is right.”

The announcement comes less than two months after she obtained her home Australian Open, her third Grand Slam singles title.

“It’s the first time I’ve actually said it out loud and, yeah, it’s hard to say,” Barty told her former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua in the video interview. “But I’m so happy, and I’m so ready.

“I don’t have the physical drive, the emotional want and everything it takes to challenge yourself at the very top of the level anymore. I am spent.”

Barty, who left tennis in 2014 to pursue a professional cricket career but returned to the sport two years later, won her three major singles titles on three different surfaces — on clay at the 2019 French Open, on grass at Wimbledon last year and on the hard courts of Melbourne Park at the Australian Open in January.

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The WTA Tour stated Barty has held the No. 1 ranking for 114 consecutive weeks.

She is the second woman to retire while being ranked No. 1 in the world. Justine Henin retired on May 14, 2008, after spending 61 consecutive weeks ranked at the top. Henin also was 25 at the time of her retirement, but did come back two years after her announcement, reaching the final of the 2010 Australian Open before stepping away for good in 2011.

“Ashleigh Barty with her signature slice backhand, complemented by being the ultimate competitor, has always led by example through the unwavering professionalism and sportsmanship she brought to every match,” WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon said in a statement.

“With her accomplishments at the Grand Slams, WTA Finals, and reaching the pinnacle ranking of No.1 in the world, she has clearly established herself as one the great champions of the WTA.

“We wish Ash only the very best and know that she will continue to be a tremendous ambassador for the sport of tennis as she embarks on this new chapter of her life. We will miss her.”

Barty said tennis has “given me all of my dreams, plus more, but I know that the time is right now for me to step away and chase other dreams, and to put the rackets down.”

She noted in her Instagram caption that she leaves the sport “feeling proud and fulfilled” and said there will be more to come at her news conference on Thursday.

Earlier this month, Barty pulled out of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and the Miami Open, citing a need for ongoing recovery after winning the Australian Open.

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Daniil Medvedev, Rafael Nadal advance at Mexican Open to remain on track for rematch

Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal had comfortable victories on Wednesday at the Mexican Open, and a rematch of their epic five-set final at the Australian Open appears to be on the horizon.

Medvedev took another step toward the top spot in the ATP rankings with a dominant 6-1, 6-2 second-round triumph over Pablo Andujar, while Nadal cruised past Stefan Kozlov 6-0, 6-3.

If Medvedev beats Yoshihito Nishioka in the quarterfinals and Nadal does the same versus Tommy Paul, the two players will meet again in the semifinals less than a month after the Spaniard rallied to win the final at Melbourne for his record 21st Grand Slam singles title.

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Paul advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (6), 2-6, 7-5 win over Dusan Lajovic, and Nishioka progressed after rallying to beat Taylor Fritz 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Medvedev, 26, is trying to replace Novak Djokovic atop the rankings and could achieve that goal if he wins the title in Acapulco.

He needed just over an hour to beat Andujar the morning after defending champion Alexander Zverev was kicked out of the Mexican Open for violently smashing his racket on the umpire’s chair moments after losing a doubles match.

“If I do (reach No. 1), it is going to mean a lot, there would be a lot of statistics mentioned, since when this or since when that. … It’s going to be fun, but first I have to achieve it, it’s my main goal to win as many matches as possible in the next few weeks,” Medvedev said.

Medvedev beat Djokovic in the US Open final last September to win his first major title and, at his next Grand Slam event, reached the final at the Australian Open on Jan. 30 before losing to Nadal.

The 35-year-old Spaniard, who has won three times in Acapulco — 2005, 2013 and 2020 — has a 12-0 record in 2022 and needed 1 hour, 16 minutes to beat Kozlov, who entered the draw as a lucky loser.

The Mexican Open is played on the hard courts of the Arena GNP in Acapulco.

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Novak Djokovic gets warm welcome in Dubai before tennis tournament

Novak Djokovic on Thursday received a warm welcome in Dubai, where he visited the world’s fair following the global discussion around his decision to stay unvaccinated.

After being twice detained and deported from Australia ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam Tournament last month, Djokovic was in the United Arab Emirates for the Duty Free Tennis Championships.

“I’m excited to go out on the tennis court next Monday,” the Serbian tennis star said when asked by The Associated Press how he feels after the recent twists and turns of the legal dispute over his travel visa. “I miss tennis honestly after everything that has happened.”

Djokovic this week doubled down on his decision to stay unvaccinated. The No. 1-ranked tennis player stated he would skip the French Open, Wimbledon and other tournaments if he was required to get a coronavirus vaccine to compete.

Djokovic reiterated in an interview with Serbia’s state RTS television on Thursday that he keeps “an open mind” about the possibility of getting vaccinated in the future but remains willing to miss upcoming majors because of his refusal to do so.

“I am not exclusive, anything is possible in life,” Djokovic said. “I decided at this moment not to do it and I am ready to bear consequences.”

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The government of Dubai does not require visitors to be vaccinated to enter.

The men’s tennis tour event starts next week.

As he ambled into the pavilion Thursday surrounded by a sea of journalists, fans clapped and chanted “Nole,” his nickname.

Djokovic posed for selfies with adoring fans and set off on a guided tour of Serbia’s national pavilion at Expo 2020 days before he was due to hit the courts. The pavilion was hosting an event for his foundation, the Novak Djokovic Foundation, which promotes early childhood education in Serbia.

“I’m proud to be on this stage,” Djokovic said after his wife, Jelena, gave a presentation about the foundation’s work with children.

He said it was often hard to be involved as much as he wanted to be with the foundation given his whirlwind tournament calendar.

But he quickly acknowledged: “It’s not as busy as it used to be.”

The audience burst into applause. Wearing a crisp white shirt and black mask emblazoned with his foundation’s logo, Djokovic gave high fives to toddlers and nodded encouragingly as he heard about Serbia’s startup scene at the pavilion’s multimedia exhibit.

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Naomi Osaka, ‘just happy to be here,’ posts first-round victory at Australian Open; Coco Gauff upset by Wang Qiang

Defending champion Naomi Osaka posted a relatively trouble-free 6-3, 6-3 triumph on Monday over Camila Osorio in the first round of the Australian Open.

Osaka, the four-time Grand Slam singles champion, won at Rod Laver Arena and did so by taking the first five games of the match, before Osorio finally scratched one out herself.

Osaka will take on Madison Brengle — the American player defeated Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 6-1, 0-6, 5-0, ret. — in the second round as she looks to build some momentum for what could be a lengthy tournament run.

The former No. 1 player in the world, Osaka slid down the rankings last year after taking time off following her withdrawal at the French Open.

She is seeded 13th at the Australian Open, where she won in 2019 and 2021.

“It always feels special to come back here,” she said after Sunday’s victory.

The early success seems promising for Osaka, as Osorio is ranked 50th in the world but was making her main draw debut at Melbourne Park.

“I thought she played amazing,” Osaka said of her opponent. “Overall, I’m just happy to be here, I’m happy to see everybody in the audience, and I hope we gave you a great performance.”

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After winning here last year, capturing her second Australian Open title in three years, Osaka pulled out of the 2021 French Open before the second round then sat out Wimbledon. She played at the Tokyo Olympics, where she lit the cauldron, but ended her 2021 season early after a third-round loss and a teary news conference at the US Open.

Two of her goals for 2022, she stated last week, were to stay completely composed on the court and off, and to enjoy the game.

The first test of Osaka’s new approach to tennis might have been when she completely whiffed on an overhead to give her opponent a break point. Osaka didn’t chuck her racket. She didn’t roll her eyes. She smiled.

“There are situations where I previously would get upset. But at this point in my life, like, I’m here because I want to be here and because I find that it’s fun for me,” Osaka said. “Might as well enjoy it while I still can.”

Elsewhere on the women’s side, China’s Wang Qiang secured her first victory over a top-20 player since defeating Serena Williams at Melbourne Park in 2020 after upsetting 18th-seeded Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-2.

It was Wang’s first victory on tour since last year’s French Open, where she beat Su-Wei Hsieh in the first round before losing to Gauff in the second.

Gauff saved four match points from 5-0 down on Monday, but that was the only good news in a match in which the American made 38 unforced errors.

“You know I lost two times against her last year, so I just tried my best to focus on court,” Wang said.

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