Olympics: Osaka wins on return, Sorribes Tormo stuns Barty

  • Matt Trollope

Naomi Osaka looked impressive in her return to competitive tennis, dropping just five games in a first-round Olympic victory over Zheng Saisai. 

The Japanese star was among four of the top five seeds to advance the second round on Sunday in Tokyo, with Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and Czech Karolina Pliskova 

The only one who didn’t progress was world No.1 Ash Barty, Australia’s Wimbledon champion who suffered a shock 6-4 6-3 loss to Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo.

In men’s action, No.3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas survived Philipp Kohlschreiber in three sets while Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Andy Murray all departed the singles event.

Osaka & Sabalenka advance while Barty exits

Osaka beat China's Zheng 6-1 6-4 almost two months after her last official match in the first round at Roland Garros. 

Osaka, the No.2 seed, struck 25 winners to Zheng's 10 to set up a second-round meeting with Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic.

In the preceding match, Sorribes Tormo produced the upset of the Olympic tennis event so far, playing tactically astute and consistent tennis to frustrate Barty on Centre Court at Ariake Tennis Park.

Barty found her range after trailing 4-1 in the first set and held points to level at 4-4 but could not convert; it was a similar story in the second set, with the Aussie earning two break points for a 4-2 lead, only for the dogged Sorribes Tormo to again escape.

It was a frustrating day for Ash Barty, who committed 55 unforced errors in her first-round loss at the Tokyo Olympics to Sara Sorribes Tormo, whose unforced error tally was just 13. (Getty Images)

While Barty bowed out after spraying 55 unforced errors, Sabalenka and Pliskova progressed with comfortable victories over Magda Linette and Alize Cornet respectively, and Svitolina joined them in round two after a 6-3 5-7 6-4 victory over Laura Siegemund that spanned more than three hours.

Other women’s singles winners on Sunday were Spain’s Garbine Muguruza – a 7-5 7-5 victory over Veronika Kudermetova of Russia – and Czech Petra Kvitova, who beat Jasmine Paolini of Italy 6-4 6-3. 

Ajla Tomljanovic booked her place in the second round, where she will meet Svitolina, after opponent Yaroslava Shvedova retired when trailing 7-5 3-2, and was one of three Australian winners in singles on Sunday. 

Tsitsipas survives on day of men’s upsets

The other Aussies victors were James Duckworth and Max Purcell, with the latter causing the biggest shock of the men’s tournament when he ousted Auger-Aliassime 6-4 7-6(2).

Purcell, ranked No.190, was a late replacement for Andy Murray, who withdrew from the singles event due to a thigh strain but confirmed he will continue in the doubles tournament alongside Joe Salisbury.

Purcell continued the strong recent form that saw him reach the Eastbourne semifinals and win the ATP Challenger title in Nur-Sultan, while Auger-Aliassime finished with nine double faults. 

Also exiting was No.5 seed Rublev, with the Russian drawing a tough first-round opponent in former world No.4 Kei Nishikori and losing to the Japanese veteran 6-3 6-4. 

On Sunday evening, Tsitsipas restored some order to the schedule, recovering from 2-0 down in the third set to see of German Kohlschreiber 6-3 3-6 6-3.

Tsitsipas will next face American Frances Tiafoe, who recently upset the Greek in the first round at Wimbledon.

No.4 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany, and Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, the seventh seed, progressed to round two with straight-sets wins over Yen-Hsun Lu and Luke Saville respectively. 

Quotes of the day

“I feel like the difference between players ranked 200 and Felix, or players around there, is just a bit of belief. I felt like I could win, I believed I could win… and I won.”
- Max Purcell

“It was incredible I don’t know what to say. I still have goosebumps. It’s amazing. It’s the best victory in my career, for sure. Because of the place, for who she is, because of what the Olympics means to me and because of playing for Spain.”
- Sara Sorribes Tormo

“I was definitely very, very happy and honoured.”
- Naomi Osaka on lighting the Olympic cauldron, revealing it was an honour for which she was selected back in March. 

Tweet of the day

Image of the Day

An airborne Elina Svitolina plays a forehand during her three-set win over Laura Siegemund in the first round of the women's singles at the Tokyo Olympics. (Getty Images)

Day 3: Ones to watch

Osaka returns to Centre Court for the first match of Monday’s schedule against Golubic, with both women searching for a place in the last 16. 

This precedes an exciting second-round clash between Sabalenka and Croatia’s Donna Vekic, while Serbian world No.1 Novak Djokovic continues his quest for singles gold against German Jan-Lennard Struff in the last match of the day on the premier court. 

ORDER OF PLAY: Olympic Tennis Event Day 3

Other stars of the sport are dotted elsewhere around Ariake Tennis Park on Monday.

No.2 seed Daniil Medvedev takes on India’s Sumit Nagal on Court 1, Pliskova faces Carla Suarez Navarro on Court 3, and Iga Swiatek battles Paula Badosa on Court 4.