Tokyo Olympics: Naomi Osaka eases into R3, is happy again and fulfilling a dream

Naomi Osaka of Team Japan celebrates after match point in her Women's Singles Second Round match against Viktorija Golubic of Team Switzerland on day...

After earning straight-sets victories against China’s Saisai Zheng and last month’s Wimbledon quarter-finalist Viktorija Golubic, world number two Naomi Osaka revealed she was in a better place mentally since taking a break from the tour. Having returned at home in Tokyo, the 23-year-old said she’s putting pressure on herself to perform after lacking match practice of late.

As more seeds fall, women’s draw opening up for Osaka

Osaka defeats Golubic during the Women's Tennis Round 2 match between Naomi Osaka and Viktorija Golubic on Day 3 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at...

Osaka shakes hands with Golubic after winning 6-3, 6-2 in 67 minutes during the early hours today

Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty ousted in round one, a tearful second-round departure for last year’s French Open titlist Iga Swiatek while Aryna Sabalenka (#2) also suffered a surprise R2 loss as tennis at the Olympic Games has already produced some shock results.

  • Sabalenka lost a third set tiebreak against Croatia’s Donna Vekic (world no. 50), who recovered from 4-2 down in the deciding set to clinch a comeback victory
  • Swiatek also lost on her Olympic debut, 6-3, 7-6 against Spain’s Paula Badosa (#29), before making headlines as she remained on court for several minutes afterwards, crying

Barty’s surprise exit means Osaka is the top seed remaining and having already cruised past one of this year’s Grand Slam quarter-finalists in Switzerland international Golubic, the four-time Major winner didn’t drop her serve while only facing one break point opportunity throughout.

“I put this pressure on myself to do well because I know that I don’t play that many tournaments. For me, I feel like I’ve watched these players [playing the tournaments] while I was on my break, so just really want to do well.

As long as I work hard, relatively keep my head down, then good things will happen. For me, it’s a dream to be here, to play the Olympics. This is my first one, so I’m just trying to cherish the experience.”

Osaka will play against Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova overnight (04:30 estimated start), with the winner set to play against either Swiatek’s conqueror Badosa or Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska in the quarter-finals. Intriguingly, this is a first H2H meeting between the two.

Picture source: Getty Images — quotes via tennishead.net

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