This was one deficit too big to overcome for Naomi Osaka, whose Grand Slam winning streak is over.
The No. 1-ranked Osaka couldn’t muster a comeback after falling way behind yet again at the French Open, losing 6-4, 6-2 in the third round to No. 42 Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic on Saturday.
Osaka had won her past 16 matches at major tournaments, allowing her to lift the trophies at the U.S. Open last September and Australian Open in January. That run also included two victories at Roland Garros after trailing by a set and a break each time.
But Osaka’s mounting mistakes just kept accumulating against Siniakova, who never had reached the fourth round in singles in 18 previous Slam appearances. She is better known for her doubles success, winning championships at the French Open and Wimbledon last year and topping the rankings
“I mean, it’s incredible. It’s amazing. It’s the thing I couldn’t believe,” said Siniakova, who will face 2017 U.S. Open runner-up Madison Keys next. “It was my best tennis.”
She wound up with a hard-to-believe 38 unforced errors; Siniakova made only 13.
And Osaka, so good lately at the biggest moments on her sport’s biggest stages, wasn’t able to come up with the goods on the hottest day of the tournament so far, with the temperature topping 80 degrees (approaching 30 Celsius).
One key statistic: Osaka compiled seven break points in the first set but failed to convert a single one. She was 0 for 4 on break chances when Siniakova served out that set, then never managed to earn one in the second.
Clay has never been Osaka’s best surface. Her power game is served better by the speed of hard courts, in particular. That’s why she still has not made it to the round of 16 at the French Open.
The first tennis player from Japan to be ranked No. 1 thought she was better suited to contend this time and spoke about eyeing a third consecutive Grand Slam title.
After going just 9-11 on clay over her career until this season, she was 9-1 in 2019 until Saturday’s setback.
The loss ends Osaka’s run of 16 straight wins in Grand Slam tournaments, which included titles at the U.S. Open and Australian Open.
Osaka’s exit, a day after No. 2 Karolina Pliskova lost, leaves defending champion Simona Halep, at No. 3, as the highest-seeded woman remaining. Halep needed only 55 minutes to get to the fourth round with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over No. 27 Lesia Tsurenko.
Keys, a semifinalist in Paris a year ago, advanced by beating qualifier Anna Blinkova 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4.
In men’s action, No. 1 Novak Djokovic stretched his Slam winning streak to 24 matches as he seeks his fourth title in a row, eliminating 147th-ranked qualifier Salvatore Caruso of Italy 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.
Also advancing were No. 5 Alexander Zverev, No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 9 Fabio Fognini and No. 24 Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 champion and 2017 runner-up at Roland Garros.