It was a difficult day for Naomi Osaka, who struggled with consistency throughout her round-of-16 match in Birmingham against Yulia Putintseva. And at the end of the day, the world No. 43 ousted the world No. 1, 6-1, 6-3.
"I think my baseline game was very consistent today, which was very fortunate for me!" Putintseva laughed during her on-court interview. "I'm happy with my level and how I played today."
Putintseva had beaten Osaka in their only previous meeting in Hobart last year. On Thursday, Osaka had trouble finding her footing from the onset, dropping the first three games without making a valiant effort. Noticing her low energy, coach Jermaine Jenkins did not hold back during the change-over powwow.
“You got to get out of bed. Like you’re still asleep out here. You got to wake up,” said Jenkins sternly. “Like, I need to see more energy; show me some passion; look invested.
“You know, like jump around. You got to get yourself going. You got to get your energy up.”
It took two more games for Osaka to finally get on the board, but it was too late as the first set went to Putintseva. After dropping the first two games in the second set, Osaka hit another reset button, taking the lead for the first time. But the edge was short-lived, as she found herself kicked out of the tournament in straight sets.
"It feels great to beat a World No.1, and it's always great to beat a player as good as Naomi," Putintseva said. "The last time we played was a different match because it was very windy, and on a hardcourt."
With world No. 2 Ashleigh Barty advancing earlier in the day, Osaka finds her No. 1 ranking in jeopardy. If the French Open champion wins the grass-court title in Birmingham, she'll become No. 1 on Monday.