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Naomi Osaka loses in the first round in Paris


PARIS — Amanda Anisimova knocked out Naomi Osaka from another Grand Slam tournament on Monday, beating her, 7-5, 6-4, in the first round of Roland-Garros.

Anisimova, a 20-year-old American with a power play that somewhat resembles Osaka’s, had to save two match points before defeating Osaka in a three-set thriller in the third round of the Australian Open in This year.

But Anisimova was far more effective on Monday, occasionally cracking under the weight of Osaka’s shot and the weight of the moment, but ultimately navigating the game’s critical phases with aplomb.

She served the first set at love, hitting three winners, then served the match, finishing Osaka on her third match point with a sure-fire backhand on the line Osaka had no chance of reaching.

“When you see Naomi Osaka in the first round, you don’t think it’s going to be easy,” Anisimova said. “A very tough match, and going into it I knew I had to play good tennis, and the conditions weren’t easy.”

Seen objectively, it was not upset. Osaka, Japan’s former No. 1, is one of the biggest stars in sports and the highest-paid female athlete in the world by far. But it hasn’t been a dominant force on tour for over a year now and has never been a dominant force on the clay surface at Roland Garros.

Osaka’s four Grand Slam singles titles have been won on hard courts: two at the Australian Open and two at the US Open. She has never even reached the final of a clay-court event on tour and has never made it past the third round of Roland-Garros.

She arrived in Paris this year unseeded and has only played two clay-court singles matches all year after pulling out of the Italian Open earlier this month due to a left Achilles tendon injury.

Her lower left ankle was saved for Monday’s rematch with No. 27 seed Anisimova, who, as the top-ranked player, walked onto court Suzanne Lenglen after her opponent.

The ball was fierce from the first point. Although the conditions were wet and heavy on clay, both Anisimova and Osaka have the power to hit winners in all conditions. But tall and risk-loving Anisimova has had far more success at Roland Garros so far than Osaka. At 17, Anisimova reached the semi-finals in 2019 before losing to eventual champion Ashleigh Barty.

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