LONDON: World number two Naomi Osaka’s hopes of a third Grand Slam title were shredded on Centre Court as she was dumped out of Wimbledon in the first round, losing 7-6(4) 6-2 to Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva yesterday.
The Japanese, who had nervelessly battered her way to Grand Slam success at the U.S. and Australian Opens, failed to find her range on the slick lawns of the All England Club, tumbling out amid a flurry of unforced errors.
Putintseva was far from an unknown quantity for Osaka, having recently knocked her out in Birmingham, and again proved a resolute obstacle for the Japanese, fighting back after an early break to take the first set on a tiebreak.
She broke the Japanese second seed twice in a dominant second set, wrapping up victory in an hour and 36 minutes when her opponent sliced a backhand into the net, becoming the first top-two seed to lose in the women’s first round since Martina Hingis in 2001.
Third seed Karolina Pliskova made it through, beating China’s Zhu Lin 6-2, 7-6 (7/4).
Czech former world number one Pliskova, fresh from winning the Eastbourne title, has never got past the fourth round at Wimbledon. She will next face Olympic champion Monica Puig.
Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova put out 10th seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-2, 6-4 in just 70 minutes.
Meanwhile, former French Open champion Simona Halep overcame an injury scare to make the second round with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Later, 15-year-old American Cori Guaff caused one of the biggest shocks in Wimbledon history by dispatching Venus Williams 6-4 6-4 in the first round.
Playing a fearless brand of tennis that belied her young age, she bullied Williams into submission.
A break in the fifth game of the opening set, which included a delectable lob over the statuesque Williams, was enough to win her the first set.
The nerveless display continued in the second set and she sealed victory on her fourth match point when Williams netted a forehand.
Djokovic off to solid start – Page 22