Tennis: Osaka says 'no excuses' after defeat on clay return

AFP , Wednesday 17 Apr 2024

Naomi Osaka refused to blame a lengthy trip from Japan to France after losing in straight sets to Martina Trevisan in the first round of the WTA event Rouen on Wednesday.

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka of Japan returns a shot against Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan during their Billie Jean King Cup tennis match in Tokyo, Friday, April 12, 2024. AP

 

The former world number one was making her first appearance on clay since the 2022 French Open when she was knocked out in the opening round and Trevisan reached the last four.

Osaka, who returned to action in January after taking a 15-month break while on maternity leave, had her chances in the first set against Trevisan, but the Japanese star could not capitalise on them and lost 6-4, 6-2.

"It was really difficult for me... it was my second time hitting on this type of court. I think that overall, I could have done better but I've tried my best," said Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion.

The 26-year-old only arrived in France on Monday after playing for Japan in a Billie Jean King Cup qualifier last week against Kazakhstan in Tokyo.

Osaka has never reached a tour-level final on any surface other than hard courts, admitting the switch to clay was not an easy transition.

"I have never been the type to make excuses for myself, I just have to really do better," she said, confirming her presence at next week's Madrid Open.

"I think today, obviously, I didn't hit too many great shots and I could have done better. I'm kind of thinking I didn't do too bad but also I'm pretty hard on myself."

Osaka has said she would like to play in the Paris Olympics but might need to go through an appeals process after failing to make a mandatory two appearances for Japan in the BJK Cup during the current Games cycle.

Her world ranking has risen from 831 to 192 since her comeback, although she has not gone beyond the quarter-finals in seven tournaments.

In Rouen, Trevisan broke Osaka in the first game only for the former US and Australian Open champion to hit straight back.

Osaka converted just one of eight break chances in the opening set, which a resilient Trevisan won after nudging ahead in the ninth game.

The Italian carried that momentum into the second set and broke a rusty Osaka again in the third and seventh games to claim victory, only her second in nine tour-level matches this year.

Trevisan will play Ukrainian third seed Anhelina Kalinina in the last 16.

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