By HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Tennis Writer
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Naomi Osaka's 16-match Grand Slam winning streak has been followed by a two-match losing streak at majors, and as she haltingly discussed her early exit at Wimbledon at barely above a whisper Monday, she suddenly stopped.
"Can I leave?" Osaka asked the news conference moderator to her left. "I feel like I'm about to cry."
And that was that. Osaka walked out. On a wild Day 1 at the All England Club, No. 2 Osaka was the highest-seeded and most-accomplished player to leave the scene, beaten 7-6 (4), 6-2 by Yulia Putinseva.
Other highly regarded players who were defeated included five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and 2019 French Open semifinalist Marketa Vondrousova on the women's side, and No. 6 Alexander Zverev and No. 7 Stefanos Tsitsipas on the men's side.
For Osaka, this follows her third-round loss at the French Open in May.
Before that, she had won her first major title at last year's U.S. Open, then continued the unbeaten run by adding the trophy at the Australian Open in January. That made her only the 10th woman to win those two tournaments back-to-back, and the first tennis player from Japan to top the WTA or ATP rankings.
Shortly after that, Osaka split from coach Sascha Bajin, saying: "I think my reason is I wouldn't put success over my happiness," but offering no further explanation.
It was, at the very least, curious timing. When Osaka was asked Monday about whether there could be a correlation between Bajin's departure and her recent results, she replied: "I don't think it's related at all."
Osaka, who dropped one spot behind new No. 1 Ash Barty last week, found that her biggest issue against the 39th-ranked Putinseva was accuracy. Osaka ended up with 38 unforced errors, 31 more than her opponent.
"I feel like I should have been able to play well today, because I wasn't practicing bad," said Osaka, who dropped to 0-3 against Putinseva, including a loss on grass at a tuneup tournament last month. "You never know what's going to happen during matches."
Seven of Osaka's eight losses in 2019 have come against players ranked outside the top 20.
Her mood was quite a contrast to that of Putinseva, naturally.
When a reporter wanted to know why she's had so much success against Osaka, Putinseva erupted into peals of laughter after saying: "I'm not going to tell you my secrets."