Two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka hit 50 unforced errors and lost her first 10 points on serve in falling to Sara Sorribes Tormo, 6-0, 6-3, on the opening day of Japan's Fed Cup Qualifier Friday in Cartagena.
Host Spain selected clay for the tie, forcing Osaka out of her comfort zone. While the surface played into Sorribes Tormo’s favor, the world No. 78 didn’t have to do much to neutralize Osaka’s power. Though she managed just three winners to six unforced errors, consistency won out for the Spaniard. She capitalized on six of her eight break points and quickly erased a 0-2 deficit in the second set to dismiss the former No. 1 after 77 minutes, leaving Osaka to fight back tears after a disappointing performance.
Osaka was playing her first match since being ousted by 15-year-old Coco Gauff in the third round of the Australian Open, falling well short of her title defense bid at Melbourne Park. The early exit saw the Japanese star drop six places to No. 10 in the latest WTA rankings.
After struggling to handle expectations of becoming No. 1 for much of the 2019 season, the 22-year-old had seemed to turn a corner last fall when she lifted consecutive trophies in Tokyo and Beijing, and opened 2020 with a semifinal showing in Brisbane that included wins over Sofia Kenin and Kiki Bertens.
In the second rubber, Carla Suarez Navarro, who is playing her final season, defeated Misaki Doi, 6-3, 6-4. Suarez Navarro is scheduled to meet Osaka in Saturday’s first reverse singles matchup and a win would punch her country’s ticket to April’s Fed Cup Finals in Budapest.