After the controversy surrounding her exit from Roland Garros, a nation and the world at that was willing Naomi Osaka to win gold at this Olympics. She fell short exiting in the third round against Czech Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets on Monday night. Czech tennis is on the up and up seeing how two Czech players featured in the last two grand slam finals and Marketa is just one in a long line of players from that country who are good in all three major surfaces. From the very first game Osaka’s shots were not finding the lines, handing the break to Marketa and the Japanese second seeded player never recovered. Let’s pick it up at 1-0 Marketa(Osaka leading 40-30) looking to break back straight away.
Check out where the Czech is standing when serving, a little further to the left. Her body language screamed serve cross court. That was part of the ploy, the decoy so to speak. This serve takes lots of practice to execute, you only have a little part of the service box to aim at. More unforced errors followed in Osaka’s next service game and in no time she was a double break down. Check out this shot by Market at 2-0(30-0). That set was as good as over. Marketa’s forehand shots unplayable in that one, Osaka’s head dropping a bit there. Before I go to the next set, one interesting thing about the backhand slice shot. Check out 5-1(15-15). Naomi plays it first in during the rally. The reason for attempting the shot is to push your opponent to make an unforced error by hitting the net since the ball drops low. Marketa pulled the same shot at Naomi, rarely do players do that which probably caught the Japanese by surprise.
Third set was more competitive(thank goodness), Osaka breaking at long last in the very first game. The forehand that was instrumental in getting the first set deserting Marketa. However Naomi was not coping well when serving especially on first serve even though she was not double faulting as much in this match. She wasn’t moving as well as we know her to, watch how she struggles to get to the drop shots at the net. Because she wasn’t closing out her service games early, its no wonder she lost that break for 2-2. Not everything was bad about Osaka’s performance though. The shining light was her net play, check out 3-2(15-0). Great volley at the net opening up her racquet although I would have loved for her to have finished the point on the overhead smash. Osaka in the end lost the whole thing at 5-4 serving to stay in the set. The game ended on deuce but watch the match point converted by Marketa. The next shot after the net cord is usually the trickiest to decide on, Osaka buckling under that pressure. Right shot wrong execution.