Olympics: Australian tennis world No. 1 Barty out in first round but Osaka advances safely

Ashleigh Barty in action during her first round match against Sara Sorribes in the Women's Singles in Ariake Tennis Park, on July 25, 2021.
Ashleigh Barty in action during her first round match against Sara Sorribes in the Women's Singles in Ariake Tennis Park, on July 25, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (NYTIMES, AFP, REUTERS) - Ashleigh Barty is out of the Olympic singles tennis tournament.

Just two weeks after winning her first title at Wimbledon, the No. 1-ranked Australian fell in straight sets to Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday (July 25).

But there was no such trouble for home hope Naomi Osaka who began her quest for gold with a 6-1, 6-4 win over China’s Zheng Saisai in her first match since taking a break for mental health reasons just before the French Open.

The second-seeded Osaka, the favourite for gold following Barty's exit, will play Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic in the last 32.

Under a broiling sun that combined with high humidity and temperatures above 32 deg C, Barty never found her rhythm against the 24-year-old Spaniard. She dropped serve twice in each set as her 48th-ranked opponent made just five unforced errors to the Australian’s 27 to earn a shock win.

Barty was visibly dejected after the 1hr 34min match, declining to address other reporters after speaking briefly to Australian media.

She saved two set points in the first set, and two match points while serving at 3-5 in the second set. But on Sorribes Tormo’s third chance, she netted a backhand volley, one final error in a 94-minute match that was filled with them.

Barty was the firm favourite in Tokyo but women’s tennis is a wide-open competition these days. She has often spoken about how there is so much depth on the women’s tour that every player can be pushed from the first match in any tournament.

That is exactly what happened on Sunday at the Olympics, which can sometimes seem like the most random of all tennis competitions. Four years ago, Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, who has never made the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, took the gold medal in the women’s tournament.

“It’s an amazing feeling, I still can’t believe it,” said Sorribes Tormo, who will go on to face France’s Fiona Ferro in the second round.

“It’s something incredible for me. It’s something that I’ve been dreaming of all my life, being here and even more so beating the world number one. I’m super, super happy.”