May 24, 2022 at 13:35 JST
Japan’s Naomi Osaka leaves after losing against Amanda Anisimova of the U.S. during their first round match at the French Open tennis tournament in Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, Monday, May 23, 2022. (AP Photo)
PARIS--Japan’s Naomi Osaka crashed out of the French Open in a 7-5 6-4 first-round loss to American Amanda Anisimova on Monday, a year after her dramatic withdrawal from the claycourt Grand Slam tournament amid mental health issues.
Up against 27th seed Anisimova, four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka never looked comfortable on her least favorite surface as she struggled to control her powerful game.
The first three games all went against serve in a tense start but Anisimova held to go 3-1 ahead.
A backhand error by Anisimova allowed Osaka to level for 3-3, but a double fault in the 11th game allowed Anisimova to move 6-5 up and she held serve to love to take the set.
Anisimova broke decisively for 4-3 in the second set as Osaka again double faulted game.
After a couple of match points went begging, Anisimova finished it off with a stunning backhand winner down the line.
Osaka withdrew from the tournament in 2021 after boycotting post-match media duties for mental health reasons.
In the build-up to last year’s French Open, Osaka said she would not attend the obligatory news conferences for players after matches as they impacted her mental wellbeing.
The Japanese, who at that time revealed she had been suffering from depression for almost three years, returned to competitive tennis at the Tokyo Olympics after the saga cast a spotlight on players’ post-match media duties.
Roland Garros organizers conceded they could “do better” on mental health this year.
Asked whether organizers and tennis authorities had done enough in that department in the last 12 months, Osaka said: “I feel like there is always more to do. Like you can’t progress and then just stop.
“There always has to be evolution. But I feel like as of right now, like they are trying their best, and I think it’s really nice to see, because sometimes I get surveys and stuff about what would you like more and stuff like that.”
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