Written by By Joe Sutton, CNN Tokyo Contributors
Naomi Osaka from Japan will not return from the Tokyo Olympics with a medal after losing in the third round of the women’s singles to Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova at the 2017 WTA Finals on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old, who is the youngest player in the tournament’s history, was fighting to emulate compatriot Kimiko Date, who won a bronze medal in 1972 aged 17, and could have matched South Korean Kim Jung-su, who won a silver in 1996 aged 16.
For Osaka, however, fourth place overall is considered to be a disappointment after reaching the semi-finals in Rio de Janeiro, where she lost to Li Na.
Despite the defeat, she was positive, noting her decision to go solo this year when older players withdrew from the WTA Finals was “the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
“I won’t lose any more matches,” she added, per the Tennis Channel
“I really thought (about) all my matches throughout the season. I will not lose any more matches next year.”
After thrashing Magdalena Rybarikova in her opening round-robin match, Osaka set up a quarter-final showdown with Venus Williams after a straight-sets victory on Sunday.
She did not face another top 10 player in the tournament, missing out on top seeds Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska in the process.
Sunday’s win meant Osaka topped the group on 6-0-1 with two rounds to go before being seeded for the knockout stage.
This had helped to ensure she was not paired with world number one Simona Halep. Instead, she was handed the 10th seed and lined up against US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the first round.
“I think all of the players are more mentally more tough than me because when you go through tough times you will do more mental work and more when you lose,” she added.
Osaka rose to prominence last year after rising up through the junior ranks to reach the semifinals of the US Open — a feat that earned her a spot at the tournament in New York.
She would have also reached the quarterfinals of the French Open in May but for being called out during a match by Halep who suggested she had no business being in the final eight — a punishment that was later overturned.
Osaka, who won back-to-back events in New York and Tokyo earlier this year, will be considered a star of the future by the WTA, despite her now high expectations from fans who expect instant results.
“I believe all the players of the WTA dream about being a professional tennis player and doing so for a long time,” she said.
“I love winning, but I’m just happy with what I’ve done this year and what I have going on in the future.”