LONDON – Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva pulled off on Monday a big upset as she stunned second-seed Naomi Osaka of Japan 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 in the first round of Wimbledon, the third Grand Slam event of the season, held on a grass court.
This is the first time Osaka, a two-time Grand Slam champion, is knocked out in the first round of Wimbledon since making her first tournament appearance a couple of years ago.
After the defeat, Osaka has been ruled out of the race for the top spot of the WTA rankings, which the Japanese conceded to Ashleigh Barty of Australia a couple of weeks ago, when the latter clinched the Birmingham Open title.
At the Birmingham Open, Osaka, 21, fell short in the round of 16 against Putintseva, who took one hour and 36 minute to repeat her win over the Japanese player at Wimbledon’s Centre Court.
“It is amazing. I have never even been on this court before,” the Wimbledon website cited Putintseva, world No.39, as saying after the win.
“Even the shape surprised me, being round, not square. I think I did a good job out there, fighting great, and I am very happy now,” she added.
Everything, however, seemed to be under Osaka’s control at early stages of the first set, when she grabbed a service break for a 3-1 lead.
Putintseva did find her way back immediately, though, breaking Osaka’s serve to draw level at 3-3 and the set went on serve toward a tie break, which the Kazakh clinched.
Osaka found herself in trouble in her first service game in the second set as she faced two break points, but she managed to hold serve.
Both players won their service games till the fifth game when they were tied at 2-2, as the Kazakh player won four games back to back, bringing Osaka’s run at Wimbledon to an end.
After a great Grand Slam run that saw her winning the 2018 US Open and the 2019 Australian Open, Osaka lost in the French Open third round and did not even get past the opening round at the All England Club.
Therefore, the fight for the world No. 1 came down to only Barty – currently first-ranked – Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands and Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.
For her maiden third-round appearance at Wimbledon, Putintseva will take on Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland, who defeated Poland’s Iga Swiatek 6-2, 7-6 (7-3).
In other first-round action, Simona Halep of Romania, a former World No. 1, kicked off her Wimbledon campaign by defeating Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, 6-4, 7-5.
The seventh-seed is set to play her countrywoman Mihaela Buzarnescu – who defeated Jessica Pegula of the United States 6-4, 6-4 – in the second round.