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Djokovic's temper flares up in bronze medal match loss

Djokovic's temper flares up in bronze medal match loss

Novak Djokovic is leaving the Olympics without a medal in singlesBy ANDREW DAMPF AP Sports WriterJuly 31, 2021, 9:47 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — Novak Djokovic came to the Tokyo Olympics aiming for a Golden Slam. He’ll leave without a medal and will need some time to recover from a draining performance in extreme conditions that didn’t meet expectations.The top-ranked Djokovic lost his cool and abused his racket several times during a 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 defeat to Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain in the bronze medal match of the tennis tournament on Saturday.It was Djokovic’s third defeat in two days and it came less than 24 hours after he was beaten by Alexander Zverev of Germany in the semifinals. That ended his bid for a Golden Slam, which is winning all four Grand Slam titles and Olympic gold in the same year.Djokovic’s frustration was evident in his on-court behavior as the match wore on.Having saved a match point in the second-set tiebreaker, Djokovic threw his racket over five rows of seats into the stands after he couldn’t get to a stop-volley winner from Carreño Busta to conclude a long rally in the opening game of the third.A couple of games later, when Carreño Busta had broken his serve to take control of the decisive set, Djokovic again lost his cool and slammed his racket into the net post during a change of ends. He then picked up the mangled racket and tossed it into the photographers’ pit.Djokovic received a verbal warning for the net-post incident, but Carreño Busta appeared to question the chair umpire as to why it wasn’t a point penalty since it was the second instance of racket abuse. The umpire, however, hadn’t warned Djokovic for the first incident.Djokovic, who also lost with Serbian partner Nina Stojanovic in the mixed doubles semifinals on Friday, has played a total of 16 sets over seven matches in four days.He was due back on court later Saturday for one final match in Tokyo. He and Stojanovic were scheduled to face the Australian duo of Ash Barty and John Peers for the bronze medal in mixed doubles. But Djokovic withdrew from that match citing a left shoulder injury — handing the bronze medal to Australia.As it’s been virtually all week at the Ariake Tennis Park, heat was a major factor, with the temperature soaring to 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) and stifling humidity making it feel like 100 degrees F (38 degrees C).Both Djokovic and Carreño Busta put ice bags on their necks during changeovers. Djokovic also grabbed a rubber tube blowing cool air and stuck it up his shirt.Also later, Belinda Bencic of Switzerland plays Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the women’s singles gold medal match.Meanwhile, Carreño Busta will have to wait until Sunday to be awarded his bronze medal, after Zverev plays Karen Khachanov of ROC in the men’s final. That, of course, was the match that Djokovic came expecting to play in.Djokovic won the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon this year and needed the Olympic and U.S. Open titles to complete the Golden Slam collection.Steffi Graf in 1988 remains the only tennis player to achieve the Golden Slam. But Djokovic can still go after the calendar-year Grand Slam by winning the U.S. Open — something no man has accomplished since Rod Laver in 1969.The U.S. Open starts in a month.Keeping his temper under control has always been an issue for Djokovic, who was disqualified from last year’s U.S. Open after unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball during a fourth-round match against Carreño Busta.Carreño Busta went on to reach the semifinals of the U.S. Open for his career-best result at a major.Now the 11th-ranked Carreño Busta has won an Olympic medal for another breakthrough moment — a moment he cherished by falling down onto his back next to the Olympic rings printed on the court after Djokovic netted a forehand on the Spaniard’s sixth match point.Djokovic’s only Olympic medal remains a bronze in singles from 2008 — his first Olympics.———Associated Press reporter Syd Fryer contributed to this report.———Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Djokovic loses to Zverev at Olympics, ending Golden Slam bid

Djokovic loses to Zverev at Olympics, ending Golden Slam bid

There will be no Golden Slam for Novak DjokovicBy ANDREW DAMPF AP Sports WriterJuly 30, 2021, 10:37 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — There will be no Golden Slam for Novak Djokovic.The top-ranked Serb lost to Alexander Zverev of Germany 1-6, 3-6, 6-1 Friday in the semifinals of the tennis tournament at the Tokyo Olympics.Djokovic was attempting to become the first man to win all four Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic gold in the same year. He won the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon this year and needed the Olympic and U.S. Open titles to complete the collection.Steffi Graf in 1988 remains the only tennis player to achieve the Golden Slam.“He won 20 Grand Slams,” Zverev said. “So you can’t have everything.”Zverev’s opponent in the gold-medal match will be Karen Khachanov. The Russian beat Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-3, 6-3.Djokovic, who hadn’t lost since getting beaten by Rafael Nadal at the Italian Open final 2½ months ago, will play Carreno Busta for bronze.On a humid and muggy evening at the Ariake Tennis Park, Djokovic committed a series of uncharacteristic errors after a strong start as the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Zverev started to win free points with his big serve.When Zverev hit a backhand winner down the line that Djokovic didn’t move for to close it out, Djokovic walked to the net where he was embraced by Zverev. Djokovic responded by resting his head on Zverev’s shoulder as the pair exchanged some words.“I told him that he’s the greatest of all time,” Zverev said. “I know that he was chasing history, he was chasing (the) Golden Slam. … We’re very close. … So of course I’m happy that I’ve won, but in the end of the day I also know (how) he feels.”Djokovic’s only Olympic medal was bronze in singles at the 2008 Beijing Games — his first. He could still win a gold at the Tokyo Games in mixed doubles.Djokovic was due back on the court almost immediately to play with Serbian partner Nina Stojanovic in the mixed doubles semifinals against the Russian duo of Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev.It’s the third consecutive day that Djokovic was playing two matches.Viktor Troicki, Serbia’s Olympic team coach, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the entire team was against Djokovic playing mixed doubles because they didn’t want the event to tire him out with so much on the line in singles.Without Djokovic, the gold-medal match will be lacking star power.Zverev’s best career result was reaching the final of last year’s U.S. Open, while the 25th-ranked Khachanov is coming off a quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon and is now in the biggest final of his career.Later, there’s an all-Croatian gold-medal match in men’s doubles featuring the top-seeded pair of Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic against Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig.The first medal of the tennis competition went to the New Zealand team of Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus, who took bronze in men’s doubles by beating Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren of the United States 7-6 (3), 6-2.Daniell and Venus became the first New Zealand players to win a medal in tennis since 1912, when Anthony Wilding took bronze in singles while representing Australasia. Wilding, New Zealand’s only Grand Slam singles champion with six titles, was killed during World War I in 1915 at the age of 31.———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports———Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf

Serbia coach: team was against Djokovic's mixed doubles play

Serbia coach: team was against Djokovic's mixed doubles play

TOKYO — With so much on the line — the Golden Slam, the calendar-year Grand Slam, Olympic singles gold — it’s been a mystery to many why Novak Djokovic entered the mixed doubles tournament at the Tokyo Olympics.Why risk injury or getting fatigued because of an event that doesn’t have much of a following and might distract from the more pressing goals within reach?“I was against it. The whole team was against it,” Viktor Troicki, Serbia’s Olympic team coach and Davis Cup captain, told The Associated Press in an interview after Djokovic reached the semifinals in both singles and mixed on Thursday. “It was just him. He wanted to play.”So there Djokovic was, partnering with Nina Stojanovic to beat the German pair of Laura Siegemund and Kevin Krawietz 6-1, 6-2 in a match that started less than two hours after he routed Kei Nishikori of host Japan 6-2, 6-0 in singles.“I thought he had enough of tennis the last months,” Troicki said. “Really, he played so much.”Djokovic, who has already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year, needs the Tokyo Games title and the U.S. Open trophy in singles to become the first man to achieve the Golden Slam.“Everyone was thinking about the singles,” Troicki said. “When he said he wanted to play mixed, I was like, ‘OK, (if) it means that much to him and he wants to prove that he’s ready and in the mixed matches he’s giving everything, he’s 100% focused on going all the way, then OK.’“He’s looking for a harder challenge,” Troicki added with a laugh.Marian Vajda and Goran Ivanisevic, Djokovic’s personal coaches, didn’t travel to Tokyo. But Troicki has been talking to Ivanisevic.“It’s working well so far,” Troicki said. “I’m glad he’s having short matches in both events.”Djokovic hasn’t lost a set yet in singles or mixed doubles.But Djokovic could face his biggest test of the Olympic tournament against fifth-ranked Alexander Zverev on Friday — even though Djokovic holds a 6-2 career edge over the German and has not lost to Zverev in nearly three years.“It’s probably the final before the finals,” Troicki said. “It’s going to be an interesting match.”Karen Khachanov of ROC and Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain play in the other semifinal.Troicki, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 12 in 2011, retired from playing after failing to qualify for Wimbledon this year. He was a teammate of Djokovic’s on the Serbian team that won the Davis Cup in 2010 — a title that many credit with giving Djokovic the motivation and belief that he could contend with tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.More than a decade later, Djokovic matched Federer and Nadal with his 20th Grand Slam title by winning Wimbledon this month.And if he completes the Golden Slam, he’ll also surpass both of his longtime rivals with his 21st major title at the U.S. Open and become the first man to win a calendar-year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.The 34-year-old Djokovic is already the first man since Laver in ’69 to win the first three major tournaments in a season.To Troicki, it doesn’t even matter what Djokovic does from here on in terms of the comparisons with Federer and Nadal — both of whom Djokovic holds winning records against.“Already now, it’s obvious that he’s the greatest in our sport,” Troicki said. “The greatest ever to play and to achieve so many records.”They’re both great champions, both Rafa and Roger, and I admire what they’ve done. But really Novak has (reached) new heights and new records and he’s for sure not going to stop here. He’s going to prove that he’s the best ever player.”Still, Djokovic is often not as revered as Federer and Nadal are worldwide.“There is no point of talking again and again about that question,” Troicki said. “Roger and Rafa came first. Novak came after them, from a small country, Serbia. … Some people are just more for Roger and Rafa because Novak came after them. Novak has his fans.”Among the Big Three, only Djokovic came to Tokyo, and whether he wins gold or not, he’ll be going for the calendar Grand Slam at the U.S. Open starting next month.“He’s mentally ready for everything,” Troicki said. “What he’s doing in our sport is something special and he’s mentally tougher than anyone ever in this game.”———Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Winning without Federer: Bencic reaches Olympic tennis final

Winning without Federer: Bencic reaches Olympic tennis final

Belinda Bencic and Swiss tennis are doing just fine without Roger Federer at the OlympicsBy ANDREW DAMPF AP Sports WriterJuly 29, 2021, 10:11 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — Belinda Bencic and Swiss tennis are doing just fine without Roger Federer at the Olympics.The 12th-ranked Bencic beat Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-3 on Thursday to reach the gold-medal match at the Tokyo Games.And that wasn’t all.After a short rest, Bencic was scheduled to play again later with Swiss partner Viktorija Golubic against the Brazilian pair of Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani in the semifinals of the doubles tournament.“To have the medal for me is the greatest thing,” Bencic said. “Now I go to the doubles and I hope to do it again so it’s not over yet, but I can really, really enjoy this moment.”If she also wins in doubles, Bencic would become the fifth player to reach two finals at the same Olympics since tennis returned at the Games in 1988, joining Serena and Venus Williams, Andy Murray and Nicolas Massu.“In the next match I can be more relaxed because I already have a medal,” Bencic said.The results means that Switzerland is guaranteed a tennis medal at a fourth consecutive Olympics after Federer and Stan Wawrinka won gold in doubles in 2008, Federer took silver in singles in 2012 and Martina Hingis and Timea Bacsinszky claimed silver in doubles in 2016.Federer announced a week before the Tokyo Games began that he wouldn’t play at the Olympics because he “experienced a setback” with his knee during the grass-court season. That left Bencic as Switzerland’s most accomplished player in Tokyo and her performance represents a personal breakthrough for someone whose best Grand Slam result was reaching the semifinals at the 2019 U.S. Open.Bencic saved six set points on her serve before eventually taking control of the opening set.When a return from Rybakina landed in the net on the first match point after nearly three hours, Bencic dropped to her knees and covered her face with her hands as she began crying.Play started four hours later than on previous days after organizers finally acted upon a request from players to avoid the hottest part of the day.Still, it was steamy inside the Ariake Tennis Park with the temperature at 88 degrees F (31 degrees C) and with enough humidity to make it feel like 99 degrees F (37 degrees C) when play began.But afternoon shadows quickly crept across the court and there was a consistent breeze to make it more bearable than playing in the bright morning sun as on previous days.Fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and 2019 French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic were to play in the other semifinal later.Next up on Center Court, Novak Djokovic was facing Kei Nishikori of Japan in the quarterfinals as the top-ranked Serb attempts to extend his bid for a Golden Slam.Steffi Graf in 1988 is the only tennis player to achieve the Golden Slam, winning all four Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic gold in the same calendar year.Djokovic, who has already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year, needs the Tokyo Games title and the U.S. Open trophy to complete the Golden Slam.For the second straight day, Djokovic had two matches scheduled. He’s also playing again later with Serbian partner Nina Stojanovic against the German pair of Laura Siegemund and Kevin Krawietz in the mixed doubles quarterfinals.The first man to reach the semifinals of the men’s singles draw was 12th-seeded Karen Khachanov of ROC, who beat Ugo Humbert of France 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3. Khachanov will next face either Alexander Zverev of Germany or Jeremy Chardy of France.In men’s doubles, an all-Croatian final was set up between the pairings of Marin Cilic-Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic-Mate Pavic.Also, the top-seeded Czech duo of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova reached the women’s final. Krejcikova won both the singles and doubles (with Siniakova) titles at this year’s French Open.———Associated Press reporter Syd Fryer contributed to this report.———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports———Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf

Djokovic says 'pressure is a privilege' that he can handle

Djokovic says 'pressure is a privilege' that he can handle

Novak Djokovic says “pressure is a privilege” with the topic of athletes’ mental health and pressure being discussed at the OlympicsBy ANDREW DAMPF AP Sports WriterJuly 28, 2021, 4:29 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — With the topic of athletes’ mental health and pressure being discussed at the Olympics, Novak Djokovic said “pressure is a privilege.”The top-ranked Serb was asked how he deals with the pressure of attempting to accomplish something that no man has done before in tennis: completing a Golden Slam.Steffi Graf in 1988 is the only tennis player to achieve the Golden Slam, winning all four Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic gold in the same calendar year.“Pressure is a privilege, my friend,” Djokovic said in answer to a reporter’s question after winning both of his matches at the Ariake Tennis Park on Wednesday, beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain to reach the quarterfinals in singles then teaming with partner Nina Stojanovic for another victory in the opening round of mixed doubles.“Without pressure there is no professional sport,” Djokovic added. “If you are aiming to be at the top of the game you better start learning how to deal with pressure and how to cope with those moments — on the court but also off the court.”Djokovic, who has already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year and needs the Tokyo Games title and the U.S. Open trophy to complete a Golden Slam, said he has learned to deal with all expectations.“All that buzz and all that noise is the thing that, I can’t say I don’t see it or I don’t hear it, of course it’s there, but I’ve learned, I’ve developed the mechanism how to deal with it in such a way that it will not impose destruction to me. It will not wear me down,” Djokovic said. “I feel I have enough experience to know myself how to step on the court and play my best tennis.”Djokovic struggled more with mental pressure at the start of his career when he wasn’t winning as much as longtime rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. He won the Wimbledon title this month to match Federer and Nadal with his 20th Grand Slam.“Of course. It’s normal,” Djokovic said. “No one is born with those abilities. Those abilities come with time.”Tennis player Naomi Osaka and American gymnast Simone Biles are among the Olympians who have talked openly about their mental health troubles.Djokovic’s only Olympic medal was bronze in singles from his first Olympic appearances at the 2008 Beijing Games. He then lost to Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in his next two Games: in the 2012 bronze-medal match and the first round at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.“Rio was (a) very tough loss for me,” Djokovic said. “I came into Rio as also a big favorite, winning four out of last five Grand Slams, No. 1 in the world. So I know that feeling; it’s kind of a similar feeling now. But I’m a more experienced player; I know mentally what I need to do and how to work things around on and off the court in order to feel the best that I possible can feel.”———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports———Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf

'I can die': Medvedev survives extreme heat at Tokyo Games

'I can die': Medvedev survives extreme heat at Tokyo Games

TOKYO — Bent over in exhaustion before serving. Resting on his racket between points. Grasping for a rubber tube blowing cool air next to his seat on changeovers. Two medical timeouts and one visit from a trainer.Daniil Medvedev was struggling so much with the suffocating heat and humidity at the Ariake Tennis Park on Wednesday that at one point the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, asked him if he could continue playing.“I can finish the match but I can die,” Medvedev replied. “If I die, are you going to be responsible?”Afterward, Medvedev said he felt “darkness” in his eyes.“I didn’t know what to do to feel better,” the ROC player added. “I was ready to just fall down on the court.”Somehow, the second-seeded Medvedev still pulled out a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over Fabio Fognini of Italy to reach the quarterfinals at the Tokyo Olympics.Spanish player Paula Badosa was less fortunate. She left the court in a wheelchair after retiring from her quarterfinal match against Marketa Vondrousova because of heatstroke.Badosa also had to withdraw from a mixed doubles match later with partner Pablo Carreno Busta.Vondrousova, the Czech player who eliminated Naomi Osaka a day earlier, had won the first set 6-3. She’s now in the semifinals and into the medal rounds and will next face fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine. Ninth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland will play 15th-seeded Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in the other semifinal match.After some rain a day earlier, the temperature rose to 88 degrees F (31 degrees C) but the heat index made it feel like a sizzling 99 degrees F (37 degrees C).The problems the players faced raised questions over why organizers did not grant requests earlier in the tournament from Medvedev and other players — including top-ranked Novak Djokovic — to move all of the tennis matches at the Games to the evening.Organizers said immediately after Medvedev’s win that they were “considering” playing the matches later, starting Thursday.Djokovic was fortunate to play later in the day after Center Court was covered by shadows. The Serbian great served nine aces and defeated Spanish training partner Alejandro Davidovich 6-3, 6-1 to keep his Golden Slam bid going.Djokovic’s quarterfinal opponent will be Kei Nishikori of Japan, who reached his third straight Olympic quarterfinal by beating Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 7-6 (7), 6-0.Djokovic was scheduled to play again later with Serbian partner Nina Stojanovic against Marcelo Melo and Luisa Stefani of Brazil in the opening round of the mixed doubles competition.In singles, Djokovic is attempting to become the first man to achieve a Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic gold in the same calendar year.Djokovic has already won the Australian and French Opens plus Wimbledon this year, so now he needs the Tokyo Games title and the U.S. Open trophy to complete the unique collection.Out on Court 2, third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece was far from his best in a 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 loss to 14th-seeded Ugo Humbert of France. Also, 12th-seeded Karen Khachanov of ROC eliminated eighth-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-1, 2-6, 6-1.“It was a battle to see who was capable to resist more. After 10 or 12 groundstrokes we were like ‘The Walking Dead,’” Schwartzman said, referring to the popular TV series.Fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany also reached the last eight and will play Jeremy Chardy of France with a potential semifinal mjatch against Djokovic looming ahead.It’s been quite a month for Svitolina, who married French player Gael Monfils before flying to Tokyo and beat Camila Giorgi of Italy 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday. Monfils was sitting courtside cheering on his new bride, having already been eliminated from both the singles and doubles tournaments.The couple got married on July 16 but have delayed their honeymoon until November, when the tennis season ends.Svitolina is the highest seeded singles player remaining after top-ranked Ash Barty, No. 2 Osaka and No. 3 Aryna Sabalenka each lost in the earlier rounds.Barty also lost in doubles with Australian partner Storm Sanders. The top-seeded Czech pair of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova beat them 3-6, 6-4, 10-7.Bencic defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of ROC 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, while Rybakina beat Gabrine Muguruza of Spain 7-5, 6-1.In men’s doubles, Andy Murray and British partner Joe Salisbury lost to Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig of Croatia 4-6, 7-6 (2), 10-7. Murray, who was the two-time defending gold medalist in singles, withdrew from that competition because of a right quad strain.Medvedev received medical treatment and had his chest massaged while leading 5-2 in the opening set but then held his serve in the next game to close it out. He then took another medical timeout while trailing 4-3 in the second.“I felt like my diaphragm has blocked,” Medvedev said. “I couldn’t breathe properly. It was the most humid day we had so far — maybe the hottest.”With so much suffering, Medvedev took his time between points, which drew protests from Fognini.Both players were allowed to leave the court for 10 minutes between the second and third sets with an extreme heat rule in effect.Medvedev said he took a “cold, freezing shower” during the break but that the sharp change in temperature put his body into shock and caused him to cramp.After holding for a 5-2 lead in the third, Medvedev received yet more medical treatment when a trainer came out onto the court and massaged his left arm and thigh.Fognini slammed his racket onto the court in disgust when the match was over, then picked the racket up and placed it in a court-side trash can.Medvedev — if he’s up to it — will next face sixth-seeded Carreno Busta, who beat Dominik Koepfer of Germany 7-6 (7), 6-3.———Associated Press reporter Syd Fryer contributed to this report.———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports———Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf

'A bit much': Naomi Osaka cites pressure in Olympic loss

'A bit much': Naomi Osaka cites pressure in Olympic loss

TOKYO — It wasn’t the ending that Naomi Osaka — nor her multitudes of fans across Japan and worldwide — had expected.The start of the Tokyo Olympics, however, will forever be a bright memory for the tennis superstar.Osaka herself said after lighting the Olympic cauldron during last week’s opening ceremony that it was “undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life.”So maybe — just maybe — that will allow Osaka to cope with her unexpected 6-1, 6-4 loss to former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the third round of the Olympic tennis tournament on Tuesday.Not immediately, though.“I’m disappointed in every loss, but I feel like this one sucks more than the others,” Osaka said.As a four-time Grand Slam champion, the highest-paid female athlete in the world and the host country’s poster girl for the Games, the huge expectations were hard to handle.“I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this,” Osaka said. “I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in the Olympics before and for the first year (it) was a bit much.”The second-ranked Osaka, who was born in Japan and grew up in the United States, struggled with her usually reliable groundstrokes while the left-handed Vondrousova produced a series of drop-shot winners and other crafty shots that drew her opponent out of her comfort zone.“It’s tough for her also playing in Japan and in the Olympics,” the 42nd-ranked Vondrousova said. “It’s so much pressure, I cannot imagine.”Osaka won her opening two matches in straight sets following a two-month mental health break. But conditions were different Tuesday with the roof closed because it was raining outside.Osaka had talked earlier this week about how “happy” she was to be playing again. That came after she announced in May going into the French Open that she wouldn’t speak to reporters at that tournament, saying those interactions create doubts for her.Then, after her first-round victory in Paris, she skipped the mandatory news conference.Osaka was fined $15,000 and — surprisingly — publicly reprimanded by those in charge of Grand Slam tournaments, who said she could be suspended if she kept avoiding the media.The next day, Osaka withdrew from Roland Garros entirely to take a mental health break, revealing she has dealt with depression and anxiety.She sat out Wimbledon, too. So the Tokyo Games marked her return to competition.“I’ve taken long breaks before and I’ve managed to do well,” said Osaka, who initially did not comment after her loss, then came back out and met with a small group of reporters. “I’m not saying that I did bad right now, but I do know that my expectations were a lot higher.“I feel like my attitude wasn’t that great because I don’t really know how to cope with that pressure, so that’s the best that I could have done in this situation.”Playing Osaka for the first time, Vondrousova came out with her entire game clicking from the start and quickly ran out to a 4-0 lead in the first set as Osaka hardly had time to gather herself.Osaka then broke Vondrousova’s serve in the opening game of the second set but almost immediately handed the break back when she double-faulted to make it 2-2.After Osaka lost her serve again to end the match by hitting a cross-court backhand wide, she shook hands with Vondrousova at the net, walked to her chair, zipped her racket up in her bag and followed Vondrousova off the court.But it wasn’t simply an off day for Osaka; it was also an outstanding performance from Vondrousova.“I also (beat) Simona (Halep) twice, but I think now she (Osaka) is the greatest,” Vondrousova said. “The greatest in the game, and she was also the face of the Olympics so it was tough for her, I think, to play like this.”During one point midway through the second set, Vondrousova hit an underspin, scooped forehand approach shot that landed right on the line — prompting Osaka to stare at the line for a few seconds in apparent disbelief.Osaka had break points to take a 4-3 lead in the second, but Vondrousova hit consecutive drop-shot winners to get back in the game. And then held.About 10 minutes later, the match was over.“I just really believed the second I stepped on the court,” Vondrousova said. “I think that that’s the main thing.”In men’s action, third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece beat Frances Tiafoe of the United States 6-3, 6-4 to reach the last 16.And Novak Djokovic added another medal event to his program by entering the mixed doubles draw with Serbian partner Nina Stojanovic.Tsitsipas is also entered in mixed with Maria Sakkari, who lost to fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in singles in three sets.Svitolina’s quarterfinal opponent will be Camila Giorgi of Italy, who defeated Wimbledon finalist Karolina Plisova.Also reaching the last eight were seventh-seeded Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain, No. 9 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and No. 13 Anastasia Sergeyevna Pavlyuchenkova of ROC.Vondrousova’s quarterfinal opponent will be Paula Badosa of Spain.In other men’s matches, eighth-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, No. 12 Karen Khachanov of ROC and Jeremy Chardy of France advanced.In doubles, Andy Murray and British partner Joe Salisbury reached the quarterfinals.Murray withdrew from the singles competition because of a right quad strain.———Associated Press reporter Syd Fryer contributed to this report.———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports———Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf

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