Naomi Osaka, among Wimbledon opening upsets, exits on verge of tears

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Naomi Osaka was asked after her first-round Wimbledon loss about splitting from her coach in the winter, about inconsistency, about restoring confidence. Finally, about getting used to her new level of global fame.

“Can I leave?” the No. 2 seed said after that 11th question of her press conference following a 7-6 (4), 6-2 loss to 39th-ranked Yulia Putintseva. “I feel like I’m about to cry.”

Osaka became the highest-ranked women’s singles seed to lose in the first round of Wimbledon since Martina Hingis in 2001 on Monday. Putintseva swept her for the second time in the last two weeks.

Osaka, who broke through with back-to-back hardcourt Slams at the U.S. Open in September and the Australian Open in January, has lost in the first week of back-to-back Slams on clay and grass.

She committed 38 unforced errors as the 5-foot-4 Putintseva had twice as many winners as unforced errors, 15 to seven, in her first time on tennis’ most famous court.

A reporter asked if the parity atop women’s tennis — Osaka is the lone multiple winner of the last 10 Grand Slams — softened the blow of the defeat.

“That makes me feel worse,” she said. Osaka refused to relate it to splitting from coach Sascha Bajin after the Australian Open or her youth (21 years).

“There is answers to questions that you guys ask that I still haven’t figured out yet,” she said.

Osaka said before the tournament that her transition from the spring clay season to grass had been tough.

In her tune-up event in Birmingham, Great Britain, she needed three sets to get out of the first round and then was dumped by Putintseva. At one point in the event, she sat next to her chair rather than on it during a break.

“I had so much stuff on my mind, then I was trying to change something, whether it be, like, sitting on the floor, whatever, try to change something,” said Osaka, who has not made a WTA final since the Australian Open and her February split from Bajin, with whom she won those two Slams. Osaka later attributed the move to putting happiness before success. “You know the song, ‘Mo Money, Mo Problems?’ … There might not necessarily be more problems, but I’m definitely overthinking more.”

Osaka’s ouster opens the draw for No. 3 Karolina Pliskova and No. 7 Simona Halep in the bottom half. No. 10 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 16 Markéta Vondroušová also lost Monday.

In the men’s draw, No. 6 Alexander Zverev and No. 7 Stefanos Tsitsipas were sent packing, boosting the already heavy likelihood that one of the Big Three will claim the title in two weeks.

Zverev, who fell in four sets to Czech Jiri Vesely, has been ranked as high as No. 3 but hasn’t made a Grand Slam semifinal.

Tsitsipas, dropped by Italian Thomas Fabbiano in five, has beaten Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (on clay) in the last year.

Top-ranked Djokovic began his title defense easing past German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 .

Serena Williams, Federer and Nadal play first-round matches Tuesday.

WIMBLEDON: Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

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Dmitriy Balandin, surprise Olympic swimming champion, retires

Dmitriy Balandin
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Dmitriy Balandin, the Kazakh swimmer who pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2016 Rio Olympics, retired at age 27.

“Today I would like to announce the end of my sports career,” Balandin said last week, according to Kazakhstan’s Olympic Committee. “I am still inspired. A new phase of my life begins. I have a lot of cool projects in my head that will soon be implemented.”

Balandin reportedly has coaching aspirations.

In 2016, he won the Olympic men’s 200m breaststroke out of lane eight as the last qualifier into the final. He edged American Josh Prenot by seven hundredths of a second and became Kazakhstan’s first Olympic swimming medalist.

He followed that up with 11th- and 17th-place finishes in the breaststrokes in Tokyo last year.

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U.S. women’s basketball team scores most points in FIBA World Cup history

Brionna Jones
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SYDNEY — A’ja Wilson and the U.S. put on quite a show, breaking the World Cup scoring mark in a record rout of South Korea.

Brionna Jones scored 24 points and Wilson added 20 to help the U.S. beat South Korea 145-69 on Monday. Shakira Austin’s layup with 9 seconds left helped the Americans break Brazil’s record of 143 points set in 1990.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a team that can score the basketball like this,” Wilson said. “This is crazy, we put up 145 points. I think when you look at us and just knowing how talented we are, we just came together and we play together very, very well.”

The U.S. always has the most talented and deepest roster of any team in the World Cup with 12 WNBA stars on the roster. Still, the Americans had never come close to that sort of offensive output during it’s storied World Cup history. The previous team record was 119 points against Angola in 2014 and China in 2006. The scoring margin was also the biggest in U.S. history as well surpassing the 75-point win over Angola in 2014.

The win was also the 26th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals when they fell to Russia. The U.S. also won 26 in a row from 1994-2006. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-1986.

MORE: FIBA World Cup Results

What started with Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles has now been passed on to Breanna Stewart and Wilson. A legacy of excellence that doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon.

The U.S. (4-0), which has been playing stellar defense, was challenged by South Korea early. The teams were trading baskets for the first 8 minutes and it was tied at 21 before the Americans took control, scoring the final 11 points of the period.

Kahleah Copper came off the bench for the first time of the tournament and scored six points during that spurt. The Americans kept the streak going to start the second quarter, scoring nine of the first 11 points to put the game away.

By the time the game reached the half the U.S. was up 68-40, including scoring 44 points in the paint against the undersized Koreans.

“We were trying to get the ball inside,” Jones said. “We had an advantage there.”

The only suspense in the second half was how many records the Americans could break. They took down their own scoring mark on Sabrina Ionescu’s 3-pointer with 6:15 left in the game and kept putting up points with Austin’s layup capping off the contest.

Other records broken on Monday included the 62 field goals made, 36 assists and 94 points in the paint.

“Our size was a problem for them and I thought we shared the ball,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said.

The Americans were well rested for the game after having their first day off of the tournament on Sunday.

Despite the rout, South Korea (1-3) can still advance to the quarterfinals with a win over Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

Leeseul Kang, who had 37 points in a win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, scored 10 points. Hyejin Park had 17 to lead the team.

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