Naomi Osaka’s Wimbledon return abruptly halted by Emma Navarro

Naomi Osaka’s first Wimbledon campaign in five years was emphatically halted by a swift second-round defeat to world number 17 Emma Navarro.

Wild card Osaka entered Centre Court buoyed by her first victory at the All England Club since 2018 following a mixture of injury and mental health struggles, plus the birth of daughter Shai.

But the four-time grand slam champion was unable to build on her three-set opening win over Diane Parry as Navarro comfortably progressed 6-4 6-1 in just 59 minutes.

The victorious 23-year-old will next take on Russian world number 30 Diana Shnaider, who last week beat her en route to claiming the Bad Homburg Open title.

“I don’t think it was the greatest from my end,” said Osaka.

“I feel like even though in the beginning it was kind of like we were trading games, I don’t know why, I didn’t feel fully confident in myself. I didn’t feel like I was playing that well.

“I guess those doubts started trickling in a lot into my game. Obviously the second set wasn’t that great. I don’t know why those thoughts were so prevalent.

Emma Navarro celebrates
Emma Navarro celebrates beating Naomi Osaka (Aaron Chown/PA)

“I’m a little disappointed because I wanted to do really well. I feel like I put a lot of time into it. There’s always next year.”

Japanese world number 113 Osaka believes elements of her game have improved since she twice won the US Open and the Australian Open between 2018 and 2021 as she seeks to hit previous heights following maternity leave.

A booming backhand winner and a couple of early aces suggested she was in the mood to back up that assessment but the match remained on serve until American Navarro broke to love in game seven.

Osaka thought she had secured a break point to immediately hit back, only for her opponent to successfully challenge a call on the left sideline before wrapping up the opening set in half an hour.

Naomi Osaka slipped to a second-round exit at Wimbledon
Naomi Osaka slipped to a second-round exit at Wimbledon (Aaron Chown/PA)

New York-born Navarro, who had never won a main draw match in SW19 before this year, was gradually beginning to dominate the groundstroke battle, including executing a stunning drop shot, while having little trouble holding serve.

Unforced errors – in addition to a costly baseline challenge at break-point down – crept into Osaka’s play to aid Navarro’s quest for a quick triumph.

The 19th seed made light work of the second set, racing into 4-0 and 5-1 leads before capitalising on the first of three match points on Osaka’s serve to condemn her high-profile rival to an early exit.

“Naomi’s obviously a great player, it’s great to have her back,” Navarro said on court.

“I was able to play some good tennis at times – my first time on Centre Court. I’ve been having a lot of fun on grass. Today was no exception.”