Cincinnati Masters 2022: Naomi Osaka collapses in the first round
Naomi Osaka in action during the first round match against Shuai Zhang at the 2022 Cincinnati Masters.©AFP
Naomi Osaka’s summer form slump worsened on Tuesday as the four-time Grand Slam winner lost 6-4, 7-5 to Zhang Shuai at the ATP/WTA Masters in Cincinnati. The first-round loss on a pre-US Open hard court was the second in as many weeks for Japan’s former world number one, now ranked 39th. The 24-year-old was knocked out in the first round in Toronto and won just one of four matches on the cement – at the WTA Silicon Valley in July. World number 44 Zhang advanced to the second round in 75 minutes as she won her first main draw match here since 2014.
The Chinese player was part of Cincinnati’s 2021 double-winning team and won US Open honors in 2021 with Australian Sam Stosur.
Osaka’s best at Cincinnati was the 2020 tournament final.
Zhang, 33, was broken while serving for the match as Osaka shot five-a-side; a subsequent break from the crowd favorite and a love hold by Zhang wrapped up the win.
“It’s always hard to pay a really good friend,” Zhang said. “Naomi is amazing but she didn’t have the best day today.”
The victory brings Zhang to 3-3 in his series with Osaka.
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