With Tuesday’s first-round loss to Danielle Collins, Naomi Osaka saw her aspirations of winning a third consecutive US Open title evaporate.
Collins, the 19th seed from the United States, defeated four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka, a winner at Flushing Meadows in 2018 and 2020, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.
Australia Open runner-up Collins will next play Cristina Bucsa of Spain in the round of 16.
After displaying remarkable maturity in defeating Osaka on Arthur Ashe Stadium, the 28-year-old Florida right-hander will approach his next challenge with confidence.
Collins, who had missed tournaments in Silicon Valley and Toronto so that she could rest her injured neck, was the most startled by her victory.
I took the summer off, and I’m still kind of dumbfounded in a way, Collins remarked. It’s not easy to come out here and face a tough opponent in the first round, let alone someone who has won two Grand Slams in this very venue.
I think most players wouldn’t want to face Naomi in the first round, so I’m ecstatic that I was able to get past her in the first round.
Osaka, a former world no. 1 who has since dropped to no. 44 due to her erratic play this year, got off to a great start by taking an early break and increasing her advantage to 3-0.
Collins, though, clawed back into the match, and after a tense tie-break, she won the first set.
Both players were delivering powerful groundstrokes, making the second set a contest of who would give in first.
After Collins broke Osaka to take a 5-3 lead in the eighth game, she was on the cusp of triumph.
After establishing a 15-40 lead in the ninth game, Osaka, at age 24, was very close to securing the break of serve necessary to keep the match alive.
After Osaka hit a return long, Collins came back to deuce and won on her first match point.
Osaka later explained that she had been suffering from a minor back injury.
To paraphrase, “I made every effort. I hoped that by relieving the pain in my back, I would be able to play more comfortably. “I just started serving seriously two days ago,” she stated.