MELBOURNE (REUTERS, AFP) - Reigning champion Naomi Osaka crashed out in the third round of the Australian Open on Friday (Jan 21) with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10-5) defeat by American Amanda Anisimova, ranked 60th in the world.
It was the first meeting between the four-time Grand Slam winner Osaka and Anisimova, who will next meet Australian world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty for a place in the quarter-finals of the year's opening Major at Melbourne Park.
“I’m speechless, I can’t stop smiling,” said the 20-year-old unseeded American, who is undefeated this year after winning a lead-up tournament in Melbourne.
“I knew I had to be playing sharp if I wanted to give myself a chance. Naomi is always going to be playing well, she is an absolute champion.
“So I really had to step up my game and try to be aggressive. That’s what I started doing in the second set and so grateful I was able to do this well today and get the win. It means a lot.”
“I fought for every point. I can’t be sad about that,” Osaka said, adding that she was yet to decide on her schedule before the WTA 1000 event in Indian Wells in March.
“I’m not God! I can’t win every match. The last match that I played in New York I think I had a completely different attitude.
“Of course I lost, but I’m happy with how it went. I just want to go into this year knowing that I’ll play the whole year and I’ll just have the greatest attitude ever.”
Barty cantered past Italian Camila Giorgi 6-2 6-3 in just over an hour to stay on her quest to end Australia's 44-year wait for a homegrown champion.
After an early break, the 25-year-old Wimbledon champion fended off three break points to go 5-2 up in the opening stanza and then broke Giorgi to seal the set.
A break for 4-2 put Barty in charge of the second set and three games later she was bathing in an ovation from the centre court crowd having secured her place in the last 16 at Melbourne Park for the fourth straight year.
"I thought tonight was really clean, I looked after my service games really well," said Barty.
"I was able to keep the momentum going, make returns when it mattered most at the important moments, pretty good performance I think."