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Osaka proud despite defeat in Australian Open third round

DPA SPORT
Published January 21,2022
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Naomi Osaka is taking pride from her Australian Open campaign despite suffering a shock third-round exit to unseeded Amanda Anisimova on Friday.

The two-time Melbourne champion fell short in her latest title defence with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10-5) loss to Anisimova in a thrilling contest on Margaret Court Arena.

Osaka, who eased past Camila Osorio and Madison Brengle in straight sets in the first two rounds, squandered two match points to overcome 20-year-old opponent Anisimova.

It means the Japanese star has now failed to defend any of her four major crowns, with Victoria Azarenka the last women's player to do so at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013.

But competing in her first competitive event since exiting the US Open to Leylah Fernandez in September, Osaka was pleased with her efforts.

"I fought for every point. I can't be sad about that," said Osaka, who nearly walked away from tennis last year.

"I'm not God, I can't win every match. It would be nice to win the tournament, but I can't think of winning the grand slam at the start of the year every time.

"I feel like I grew a lot in this match. The last time I played in New York I think I had a completely different attitude, so I'm really happy, even though I lost. I'm happy how it went."

Osaka's Australian Open title defence has been halted by a breakthrough American talent for the second time, having previously lost to Coco Gauff at the same stage in 2020.

Despite match points passing the world number 13 by, she refused to be too downbeat by the manner of the defeat.

"There are days that I'm going to have bad days, and there are days that I'm going to have great days," she said.

"It's always random, and I never know, but no matter what happens for me, I just want to leave the court knowing that I fought for every point.

"Today, of course there were things I felt I could improve on, but even with that, I had two match points, and I think that's something that I can be proud of myself for."

Osaka had dropped just one set in her first five matches this season and looked in the mood as she raced ahead against Anisimova.

But Anisimova hit more than twice the number of winners that Osaka managed (46 to 21) to pull off a huge upset and set up a last-16 clash with top seed Ash Barty.