Australian Open: Defending champion Naomi Osaka fails despite match points

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No anticipated final in the round of 16: Defending champion Naomi Osaka missed the attractive duel with world number one Ashleigh Barty at the Australian Open.

The four-time Grand Slam winner from Japan lost in the third round on Friday despite a set lead 6: 4, 3: 6, 6: 7 (5:10) against the American Amanda Anisimova, who prevented the duel between the two top favorites .

With the score at 5: 4 in the third set, Osaka, who had triumphed in Melbourne in 2019 and 2021, missed two match points. Australian title hopeful Barty had previously underlined her strong form with a 6-2, 6-3 against Italy’s Camila Giorgi and is now fighting former French Open semi-finalist Anisimova (20) for a place in the quarter-finals.

The former number one Osaka only returned to the tour in January after her tearful farewell at the US Open and a subsequent four-month break. Last summer, the 24-year-old, who had lit the fire at the Tokyo Olympics, reported depression.

25-year-old Barty is the hottest contender for the title in Melbourne. Last year she had won her second Grand Slam title in Wimbledon, at the beginning of the season she had already proven her good form after a four-month break by winning the WTA tournament in Adelaide. No Australian has triumphed in a Grand Slam home game since Christine O’Neil in 1978.

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