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Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka makes shocking exit

Tennis star Naomi Osaka, who lit the cauldron on Friday night to open the Tokyo Games, crashes out of Olympics after 6-1, 6-4 loss to Czech Marketa Vondrousova

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action during her second round match against Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland on July 26, 2021.

MIKE SEGAR/X90033

Japanese tennis favourite Naomi Osaka made a shock exit on Tuesday as focus shifted to the gymnastics arena where American great Simone Biles was set to compete for the first Tokyo gold in her quest to become the most decorated female Olympian.

Osaka was swiped aside 6-1, 6-4 by Czech Marketa Vondrousova in the third round of women’s singles after making 18 unforced errors – three times the number committed by her opponent.

“I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure, this time around,” she said. “I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in an Olympics before and for the first one to be here was a bit much.”

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The Japanese superstar lit the cauldron on Friday night to open the Tokyo Games, her first tournament since pulling out of the French Open in May, when she said she had been suffering from depression for almost three years.

TOKYO COVID-19 CASES SPIKE

Tokyo recorded 2,848 daily coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the Olympic host city’s highest since the pandemic began, officials said, as media reported that authorities had asked hospitals to prepare more beds for patients. By Sunday, nearly 21 per cent of the Japanese capital’s 12,635 COVID-19 patients had been hospitalized. Games organizers have reported 155 cases associated with the Olympics.

FANS FIND A WAY IN SPECTATORLESS GAMES

At boxing, it was drum-wielding Uzbeks. At table tennis, flag-waving Chinese cheered so much that Japanese media complained it felt like an away match for the home team.

The Olympics may officially be without supporters, but at venues across Tokyo, national delegations have brought the noise, replacing fans kept out by coronavirus countermeasures.

Outside of Tokyo, images shared on social media showed crowds, large and small, coming together around the world to celebrate Olympians – even in the shadow of pandemic curbs.

In Hong Kong, hundreds appeared to gather in a shopping mall to watch fencer Cheung Ka Long receive his medal.

Footage from broadcaster NBC showed a crowd of ecstatic fans going wild in a small-town Alaska gymnasium when 17-year-old swimmer Lydia Jacoby won the women’s 100-metre breaststroke.

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Video footage of predawn scenes in Maidenhead, to the west of London, went viral after Tom Dean led Britain’s first Olympic swimming one-two finish in 113 years.

GERMAN GYMNASTS THE TALK OF THE TOWN

Pauline Schaefer-Betz of Germany performs her floor exercise routine during the women's artistic gymnastic qualifications at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo on July 25, 2021.

Gregory Bull/The Associated Press

The full-body suits of Germany’s Olympic gymnasts have struck a chord in Japan, with many applauding the freedom of choice in a country where schoolgirls almost always wear skirts and high heels are still required in some offices. The suits, which the Germans say are an effort to counter the sexualization of women in sports, triggered much debate and garnered much applause on Japanese social media, with several women sharing bitter stories from their past.

CHINA’S STREAK CONTINUES

China’s Chen Yuxi and Zhang Jiaqi extended their country’s winning streak to six Olympic Games in the women’s 10 metre synchronized platform. The teen duo, who hugged each other after receiving their gold medals at the podium, were in another league throughout the competition, finishing with 363.78 points, more than 52 ahead of second-placed Jessica Parratto and Delaney Schnell of the United States.

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