By Ros Satar, at Roland Garros
- World No. 1 and top seed Naomi Osaka admits this tournament has been tough as she exits once more in the third round.
- Serena Williams could mount no miracle comeback this time as compatriot Sofia Kenin downs her in straight sets.
PARIS, FRANCE – Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams were the big news of the day as they both exited in the third round as the first week of Roland Garros drew to a close.
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Osaka: ‘Losing is probably the best thing that could have happened’
There might have been a few flirtations with headlines – Alexander Zverev, for example, decided to have norther five set encounter for the ‘lolz’ but the headline of the day had to be Naomi Osaka falling in straight sets to Katerina Siniakova.
For the third straight match, Osaka dropped the opening set but this time there was to be no miraculous comeback to save the World No. 1. Osaka, who will remain in the top spot, regardless of her results this fortnight. No player has won their third major in a row after winning their first two. With this result, Osaka equals her best performance of reaching the third round now for the fourth time.
With this win Siniakova advances to the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, having reached the third round three times in 2018 at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open.
“It hasn’t been the happiest of times, because I tend to think, like you guys are kind of more used to it because you’re tennis journalists But other people outside of tennis they look at the rankings, like, Oh, she’s supposed to win this match because the other girl is ranked 5 million hundred or whatever.
“And then it’s, like, these people they’re really good but they have ups and downs. I wasn’t ranked 1 last year. I was ranked 70. There’s people that can play really good but not consistently and there are times they shine, and there is nothing I can really do about it.”
“I think me losing is probably the best thing that could have happened. I think I was overthinking this 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.
“I just have to keep training hard and put myself in a position again to do it hopefully. But for now, like, peacing out of this tournament, I’ going home, like, Bye, I’m sorry, I’m not gonna miss you guys (smiling).”
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Serena Williams downed by Sofia Kenin
What happens when you face a young, feisty American that may or may not remind you of you back in the day? You have just two sets to try and stem the tide, and after a slow start, it looked as though Serena Williams had found her groove in the second match.
However, Sofia ‘Sonya’ Kenin was just a step too far for a Williams that was shy on match-sharpness. Williams’ movement was shown up sharply, and while the knee seems to have held up.
Kenin swing effectively for the fences, and picked her placement and undid Williams with a controlled display of aggression. The former champion did her best to roar herself back into contention, overcoming an early page, as the crowd made clear their displeasure at Kenin scuffing out ball marks and more and more pitted their weight behind Williams.
It just took one more break and a a couple of match points for Kenin to deliver a famous victory as well as reminding everyone that the future of the WTA looks to be alive, well and coming right along.
Williams came straight into press (bumping a disgruntled Dominic Thiem out of his press conference mid-question).
She told reporters: “I think she played really well. I feel like she, in that first set in particular, she hit pretty much inches from the line, and I haven’t played anyone like that in a long time.
“I’m just pretty far away, but that’s the optimistic part is I haven’t been able to be on the court as much as I would have. That’s okay. At least I can start trying to put the time in now.”
Her most recent forays into build-up tournaments on the grass were at Eastbourne 1998 where she made the quarter-final, and 2011 where she made the second round.
“I’m definitely feeling short on matches, and just getting in the swing of things. I don’t really like playing out points when I maybe I’ll jump in and get a wildcard on one of these grass court events and see what happens.”
Kenin is certainly not short of confidence. She knew she had to put out of her mind that she was facing a great champion and American tennis icon, as well as taking on the crowd!
She said, after the match: “Serena is such a tough player. Yeah, I’m still trying to process what just happened. I knew before the match, I was ready to go. I was there to win a match. Of course she’s a true champion and an inspiration and she’s done amazing things for American tennis. Yeah, I’m just really happy with this win. I played really well, and I’m just excited for my next match.”
Kenin continued: “I have played [Barty] twice. She’s a tough player, she’s very crafty. It’s not going to be an easy match. I’m just going to go out there and leave everything out, play my best game, and I think if I play well, good things can happen, and I believe in myself.”
Play continues with fourth round action from 11am (10am BST).
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