Naomi Osaka and Venus Williams were among the notable names to be eliminated from Wimbledon on a wild first day that saw five seeded women and four seeded men bounced in the first round.
Osaka fell in straight sets to Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva, losing 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.
Second Straight Loss to Putintseva
While it’s always an upset when the tournament’s No. 2 seed is eliminated on the first day of play, this result didn’t come as a total shock. Osaka’s final tournament before Wimbledon came at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham, which also ended for her with a loss to Putintseva.
The loss comes at the end of a rollercoaster year for Osaka. After winning the US Open last September and the Australian Open in January, the Japanese 21-year-old earned the No. 1 ranking in the world and appeared poised to become tennis’ next big star.
But since then, Osaka has failed to win a tournament, and has performed poorly at her next two Grand Slam tournaments, suffering a third-round loss at the French Open before Monday’s disappointing exit.
In a short and tearful post-match press conference, Osaka acknowledged that facing an opponent who had recently beat her likely played a psychological role in their Wimbledon rematch.
“How hard is it not to have that in my head?” Osaka said. “Very hard. I don’t know how to answer that.”
Venus Falls to Youngest Wimbledon Qualifier
Venus Williams wasn’t one of the seeded players to fall on Monday, though her name still carries a lot of weight in women’s tennis. So it made headlines when the 39-year-old – the oldest woman in the field – took a 6-4, 6-4 loss to 15-year-old Coco Gauff, the youngest qualifier ever in the professional era of Wimbledon.
Gauff, who hails from Atlanta, is ranked outside the top 300 in the world, but received a wild card into Wimbledon’s qualifying. She earned her way into the main draw, and in her third-ever tour level match, scored a win over one of the legends of women’s tennis.
“Honestly, I don’t really know how to feel,” Gauff told the BBC after the match. “This was definitely the first time I ever cried after [winning] a match. Obviously, I’ve cried when I’ve lost before. But I just don’t know how to explain how I feel.”
While those may have been the most talked about upsets of the day, there were surprising results up and down the draw.
On the men’s side, sixth seed Alexander Zverev and seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas – both considered dark horse contenders at Wimbledon – bowed out on the first day, as did Frenchman Gael Monfils. Day two continued the carnage, as No. 5 seed Dominic Thiem fell to American Sam Querrey in four sets.
Other women’s seeds to lose early including No. 10 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 14 Marketa Vondrousova, and No. 23 Caroline Garcia.
Those early upsets have had a minor impact on the Wimbledon odds, primarily by strengthening the positions of other pre-tournament favorites.
On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic (+100) has improved slightly to an even money pick to win the tournament according to FanDuel Sportsbook, ahead of Roger Federer (+300) and Rafael Nadal (+750), whose odds remain the same as before the tournament began. Meanwhile, Ashleigh Barty (+480) and Karolina Pliskova (+480) remain the co-favorites in the ladies draw, with both seeing their odds improve slightly with Osaka’s exit from the tournament.