Naomi Osaka has crashed to a five-year plateau after being knocked out of the US Open in the first round by compatriot Danielle Collins.
The two-time US Open champion went down in straight sets, 7-6, 6-3, despite leading both sets by a break against Collins who made the Australian Open final earlier in 2022.
It will mean 2022 will be the first year since 2017 that Osaka hasn’t finished the year with at least one grand slam win under her belt.
With triumphs at Flushing Meadows in 2018 and 2020, many expected Osaka to defy her world ranking of 44 to go on a deep run at her home grand slam.
Instead, Osaka encountered stiff opposition from Collins despite racing to a 0-3 lead in the first set.
Collins rallied to square the first set at 3-3 after a slow start before winning the tiebreak, repeating her comeback from a break down in the second.
On social media, while fans felt there was no shame in losing to a rising star in Collins, many were still surprised to see Osaka bounced out of the US Open so early.
Osaka split with longtime coach Wim Fissette back in July, with her former coach wishing her well as the pair parted ways.
“It has been a privilege to coach Naomi since 2019 and see her grow into the champion she has become,” he wrote.
“She has inspired a whole new generation to fall in love with the game & to speak up for what they believe in and it’s been incredible to play a part in that journey.
“Thank you Naomi Osaka. I wish you all the best and looking forward to my next chapter.”
Champions tumble in US Open women’s draw
Defending champion Emma Raducanu, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and seven-time grand slam winner Venus Williams have all crashed out of the US Open women’s field in the first round.
The first qualifier ever to win a grand slam title last year, 19-year-old Raducanu was beaten 6-3 6-3 by French veteran Alize Cornet in Louis Armstrong Stadium on Tuesday night.
She became only the third woman to lose her opening match in New York a year after winning the title – joining 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber.
She was bothered by hand blisters but simply outplayed by 32-year-old Cornet, who had ended world No.1 Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak at Wimbledon.
“Obviously really disappointing. Really sad to leave here. It’s probably my favourite tournament,” said Raducanu.
“But also, I mean, in a way, (I’m) happy, because it’s a clean slate. I’m going to drop down the rankings, climb my way back up.”
Rybakina was upset 6-4 6-4 by French qualifier Clara Burel, who is ranked 131st in the world.
Rybakina was seeded only 25th, with her victory at Wimbledon not boosting her in the rankings because no points were awarded at the All England Club this year after Russian and Belarusian players were barred from competing because of the war against Ukraine.
Rybakina, who was born in Russia but represents Kazakhstan, said before this tournament she thought that was unfair, adding she didn’t even feel like a Wimbledon champion.
The welcome and support for Venus Williams at Arthur Ashe Stadium were not the same as they were for her sister, Serena, a night earlier. Nor was the result.
She lost 6-1 7-6 (7-5) to unseeded Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck.
Venus, who turned 42 in June, has not made any pronouncements about her future in tennis, unlike her younger sibling, and while she has been successful and influential, too, the fanfare and attention are not the same.
Playing in front of thousands of empty blue seats, Venus bowed out in the first round of the US Open for the second consecutive appearance, losing in straight sets.