Naomi Osaka’s bid to win a third Grand Slam title came to a premature end when she lost to Kazakh Yulia Putintseva, 7-6(4), 6-2 in the first round of The Championships on Monday.
The 21-year-old Japanese said she had felt a weight lifted from her after losing her No.1 World ranking but it did not show against a talented opponent on Centre Court.
Indeed Putintseva simply franked the form from the recent Birmingham tournament where she had beaten the US Open and Australian Open champion in the second round.
Earlier, defending champion Novak Djokovic got his campaign for a fifth title off to a winning start on Monday with newly-hired coaching team recruit, and 2001 winner, Goran Ivanisevic helping steer the ship.
Djokovic, chasing a fifth title at the All England Club, saw off 35-year-old Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-3, 7-5, 6-3. But he had to recover from early breaks in both of the first two sets against a player who beat him at Indian Wells this year, as well as a nasty fall on the Centre Court grass.
Djokovic, chasing a 16th career Major, will face Denis Kudla of the United States for a place in the last 32.
If his victory was routine, there was nothing predictable about the Serb’s surprise decision to bring Ivanisevic into his inner sanctum over the weekend. Djokovic said that he and Ivanisevic have been long-time friends.
“I have always looked up to Goran. When he won here in 2001, I feel I was part of that as he had trained in Germany at the same base as me when I was 13-14,” said Djokovic. “I feel as if I contributed to his victory,” he joked.
Fourth seed Kevin Anderson, runner-up to Djokovic in 2018, eased into the second round beating Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
Anderson will now play Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic who registered his first win at the tournament in seven years when he defeated Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.
Outside of eight-time champion Roger Federer, twice winner Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka is the only other multiple Grand Slam champion in the draw. The Swiss took out Belgian qualifier Ruben Bemelmans in a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory that took less than an hour and a half.
In the women’s event, third seed Karolina Pliskova made it through, beating China’s Zhu Lin 6-2, 7-6(4). The Czech former World No. 1, fresh from winning the Eastbourne title, has never got past the fourth round at Wimbledon. She will next face Olympic champion Monica Puig.
Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova, a semifinalist in 2017, caused the first big upset of the tournament when she put out 10th seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-2, 6-4 in just 70 minutes. Former French Open champion Simona Halep overcame an injury scare to make the second round with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Halep, seeded seven, needed to have her left ankle strapped after a worrying fall.
She then slipped at 2-5 down in the second setset before recovering to beat her Belarus opponent who had knocked out two-time champion Petra Kvitova at the same stage in 2018.