Naomi Osaka has broken her silence after a shock third-round loss at the Olympics, admitting the pressure of being the face of the Games might have been too much.
Osaka's dreams of an Olympic gold medal on home soil were crushed on Tuesday in a 6-1, 6-4 defeat to Marketa Vondrousova.
'DISGUSTING': Uproar over ugly fallout after Naomi Osaka loss
Playing in her second match since abruptly withdrawing at the French Open due to mental health issues, Osaka cut a dejected figure as her Olympic dream ended in brutal fashion.
The Japanese star, who lit the Olympic cauldron and was one of the faces of the Games, struggled in an error-strewn display that blew the draw wide open.
World No.1 Ash Barty and third seed Aryna Sabalenka also made early exits, meaning the top three women all crashed out before the finals rounds.
Speaking after the loss, Osaka opened up on her disappointment.
"How disappointed am I? I mean, I'm disappointed in every loss, but I feel like this one sucks more than the others," said the four-time grand slam winner.
Asked what went wrong, she replied: "Everything - if you watch the match then you would probably see.
"I feel like there's a lot of things that I counted on that I couldn't rely on today."
The third-round defeat follows a turbulent few months for Osaka, who abandoned her French Open campaign in May after refusing to attend press conferences, citing the need to preserve her mental health.
She then skipped Wimbledon, saying she had been battling depression and anxiety, before returning in Tokyo for her first Olympics, including her starring role at the opening ceremony.
"I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this," she said.
"I think it's maybe because I haven't played in the Olympics before and for the first year (it) was a bit much."
Naomi Osaka out of Olympics in major boilover
After looking assured in the first two rounds after her eight-week hiatus, Osaka made a dreadful start under the centre court roof at a rain-hit Ariake Tennis Park and never recovered.
"I've taken long breaks before and I've managed to do well. I'm not saying that I did bad right now, but I do know that my expectations were a lot higher," she said.
"I feel like my attitude wasn't that great because I don't really know how to cope with that pressure so that's the best that I could have done in this situation."
Osaka dropped serve in the opening game and was broken twice more as the 42nd-ranked Vondrousova raced away with the first set.
The second seed broke in the second set but relinquished the early advantage with a double fault that allowed Vondrousova to level at two games apiece.
The 23-year-old grappled with inconsistency, and even when given a sniff of regaining the initiative she had no response to Vondrousova's array of crafty drop shots.
Osaka saved two match points as she served to stay alive at 4-5, but Vondrousova converted at the third time of asking as the Japanese superstar smacked a backhand wide.
Vondrousova will go on to face Spain's Paula Badosa in the quarter-finals.
"Of course it's one of the biggest wins of my career," said Vondrousova, the 2019 French Open runner-up.
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