MADRID: Naomi Osaka suffered a second-round exit at the Madrid Open on Sunday as the Japanese second seed lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to Karolina Muchova.
Osaka, the reigning US and Australian Open champion, has seven career hard-court titles, but has never managed to lift a clay- court trophy.
Playing her first clay-court event since the 2019 French Open, Osaka beat compatriot Misaki Doi in the first round, but she came unstuck against an opponent making her top 20 debut this week.
Muchova, who reached the last four in Melbourne this year, used a single break of serve to claim the opening set against the world number two.
Osaka, a quarterfinalist at Madrid two years ago, fell 3-1 behind in the second set but rallied to win the next five games and force a decider.
Muchova regrouped and broke Osaka early in the third set, and then again for a 5-1 lead, before sealing victory in just under two hours.
The Czech will meet Greek 16th seed Maria Sakkari or Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit for a place in the quarterfinals.
Barty, Swiatek through
The last two women’s French Open champions will meet at the Madrid Open after Ashleigh Barty and Iga Swiatek both made it through to the third round on Saturday.
World number one Barty survived a scare to beat Tamara Zidansek in three sets before Poland’s Swiatek saw off Laura Siegemund 6-3, 6-3 to set up an intriguing clash on Monday at the Caja Magica.
Despite her straight-sets win, the 14th seeded Pole needed 11 match points to secure victory in the final game. Barty won her first and to date only Grand Slam singles title at Roland Garros in 2019 before Swiatek sprung an even bigger surprise last year in Paris, after knocking out the 2018 champion Simona Halep. “It’s real exciting,” said Barty. “A match that I look forward to. I’ve hit with her once in Melbourne a few months ago.
“She’s got a seriously impressive game. She moves very well on the clay court, can slide off both legs, controls her body really well on clay.
“It’s a challenge that we go into with a clean slate, a little bit of a period of trying to figure each other out and how our games match up.”
Another battle of two former Grand Slam champions saw Petra Kvitova edge out Angelique Kerber 6-4, 7-5. Kvitova broke at the end of each set and reach the last 16. — AFP