Naomi Osaka, feeling the weight of the No. 1 ranking, could not rally from a set down in a third straight French Open match. She was ousted by the world’s No. 1 doubles player, Czech Kateřina Siniaková, 6-4, 6-2 in the third round on Saturday.
Osaka had won 16 straight Grand Slam matches — including title runs at the U.S. Open and Australian Open — but she was living dangerously, having gone the full three sets in seven of them. That includes dropping the first set in every match this week.
“This tournament I have had a feeling that was different to the other Grand Slams, or, like, every other Grand Slam that I have played, because usually I find it very freeing and fun, and this time around I was kind of tense the entire time,” Osaka said, adding that, on a scale of 1 to 10, her level of disappointment was 100. “Today I felt very tired. And, like, the other matches, too, I had, like, this headache, right, but I didn’t feel tired.”
Siniakova, who had never made a Grand Slam fourth round in 18 tries, saved seven break points while converting three of six chances against Osaka. The Czech gets American Madison Keys in the round of 16.
Osaka was bidding to join Serena Williams as the only women to win three straight majors in the last 21 years. She was undone by 38 unforced errors to Siniakova’s 13. Osaka, who has never made a clay-court final nor the second week at the French Open, will retain the No. 1 ranking.
“There has been a weight on me, kind of,” she said when asked of any pressure associated with the number next to her name. “I wasn’t ranked one last year. I was ranked 70. … Last year I would have been happy to get to the third round [at the French Open. I mean, it would have been normal.
“It’s weird, but I think me losing is probably the best thing that could have happened. I think I was overthinking this, like, calendar slam. For me this is something that I have wanted to do forever, but I think I have to think about it like if it was that easy, everyone would have done it.”
The draw opens up for Williams, who could have played Osaka in the quarterfinals. The 23-time Grand Slam singles champ plays countrywoman Sofia Kenin later Saturday. Defending champion Simona Halep is also into the fourth round in the top half.
The bottom half is less imposing, with No. 7 Sloane Stephens the only remaining top-10 seed.
FRENCH OPEN: TV Schedule | Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw
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