Copy of 2022-01-21T104120Z_588500184_UP1EI1L0TOU81_RTRMADP_3_TENNIS-AUSOPEN-1642761989174
Japan's Naomi Osaka looks dejected after losing her third round match against Amanda Anisimova of the U.S. Image Credit: REUTERS

Melbourne: Defending champion Naomi Osaka has been knocked out of the Australian Open by 20-year-old Amanda Anisimova on Margaret Court Arena.

The Japan star crashed out following a 4-6 6-3 7-6 (10-5) defeat to American Anisimova, ranked 60th in the world.

It was the first meeting between the four-time Grand Slam winner Osaka and Anisimova, who will next meet Australian world number one Ash Barty for a place in the quarter-finals of the year's opening major at Melbourne Park.

'Playing sharp'

She ensured the so-called final-before-the-final between Barty and Osaka won't happen. "I knew I had to be playing sharp if I wanted to give myself a chance," said Anisimova, who took out Olympic champion Belinda Bencic in the second round and then accounted for the 2021 Australian Open champion.


After losing the first set, Anisimova came back strong in the second before saving two match points in the third set, serving to stay in the match, and ended it with an ace. She hit 46 winners to Osaka's 21.

Anisimova produced a superb display to knock out the Japanese and disappoint those who had been salivating at the prospect of a fourth-round showdown between the four-times major winner and Barty.

Osaka, who has won all her major titles on hardcourts, had two opportunities to close out the match in the 10th game of the deciding set.

But she watched helplessly as the 20-year-old Anisimova, who has seen her ranking plummet due to injury issues, saved both and then converted her first opportunity in the deciding super tiebreak with an ace to seal the match.

The American dropped her racquet and hid her face with her palms as the crowd at the Margaret Court Arena exploded in appreciation.

Anisimova, who reached a career-high ranking of 21 in 2019, threaded 46 winners in the match, while Osaka could manage only 21.

"Going into this match I knew I had to be playing sharp if I wanted to give myself a chance," the American said on court.

"Naomi is always going to be playing well, she's an absolute champion, so I knew that I really had to step up my game and try to be aggressive.

"I think that's what I started doing in the second set. Honestly I'm so grateful that I was able to play so well today and get this win, it means a lot."