Tokyo 2020 Summer Games stadium announcer Andy Taylor recaps Marketa Vondrousova’s stunning upset of Naomi Osaka. In Japan, the live narration includes two voices: Japanese announcer DJ Ketchup and English announcer Andy Taylor. Together, they cover the presentation on Center Court, while additional Japanese and English speaking announcers cover Courts 1 and 2 at Ariake Tennis Park.
Due to Typhoon Nepatak, Naomi and Marketa’s Round of 16 match was played with the roof closed over Ariake Coliseum. Despite two master-class performances in the previous rounds, Osaka struggled to find her rhythm indoors. Meanwhile, Vondrousova aced her Center Court debut — dominating the match from ball up.
Marketa Vondrousova’s biggest victory since reaching the 2019 French Open Final
Two years ago, Marketa Vondrousova leapt to a career-high ranking of World #14 after reaching the championship match at Roland Garros. Currently the World #42, she used a protected ranking to ensure her spot on the Czech Republic’s stacked roster. Had she not, Karolina Muchova would have been the fourth Czech talent in the Olympic Singles draw.
In the opening round, she defeated 16-seed Kiki Bertens, who announced her retirement from the Tour following the Olympics. In Round-2, Marketa dominated late-entry Mihaela Buzarnescu. Today marks her 4th win over a top-10 talent and third defeat of a World #2. (During her magical run in 2019, she upset Simona Halep twice – at Indian Wells, then Rome).
Naomi Osaka and the pressure of expectation
Without overstating it, Naomi Osaka is the most celebrated athlete in Japan – and reverence for Osaka goes beyond her talent and accomplishments. She is also adored for her stance on social and mental health issues. Last year, en-route to earning her third Major title at the US Open, she wore masks emblazoned with the names of victims of racial injustice. This year at Roland Garros, she elected to pay fines rather than participate in post-match press conferences, citing the protection of her mental health as the motivating factor. When the media backlash grew too intense, she withdrew from the tournament – then backed-out of Wimbledon, as well.
For both Naomi and her enormous fan base, the Tokyo 2020 Games marked her determined return after two months of deflecting the “expectation of others,” and rejecting the norms demanded by media. She was here to represent her home nation — at its home Olympics — on her terms. Ironically however, the time away and complicated context of Japan’s delayed Summer Games, created an even more potent pressure cooker. The nation bestowed her with the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron on Opening Night. Her sponsors plastered her likeness on every marquee, every street corner. The outside expectation was back, and more overwhelming than before.
Naomi Osaka, after the loss (from CNN): “I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this. I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in the Olympics before and for the first year was a bit much. I think I’m glad with how I played, with taking that break that I had…I’m not saying that I did bad right now, but I do know that my expectations were a lot higher. I feel like my attitude wasn’t that great because I don’t really know how to cope with that pressure so that’s the best that I could have done in this situation.”
First meeting. Enormous victory for Vondrousova.
Marketa Vondrousova -42- (CZE) | Round of 16 Announcer Introduction
This 22-year-old Grand Slam Finalist is through to the Round of 16 in her Olympic Games debut with victories over the #16-seed Kiki Bertens in Round-1 and Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu. Ranked as high as World #14, 2-years-ago she reached the championship match at Roland Garros. Representing the Czech Republic, Marketa Vondrousova.
- R3 — W —  Naomi Osaka -02- (JPN) | Score: 6-1, 6-4
- R2 — W — Mihaela Buzarnescu -168- (ROU) | Score: 6-1, 6-2 | COURT-6
- R1 — W —  Kiki Bertens -21- (NED) | Score: 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 | COURT-2
 Naomi Osaka -02- (JPN) | Round of 16 Announcer Introduction
The first Asian player ever to hold the World #1 ranking, this 23-year-old captured her 4th Grand Slam Singles title earlier this year at the Australian Open. In her own words, her dream “is to be here – to play the Olympics.” She turned that dream into reality by lighting the Olympic cauldron, launching the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – and is through to the Round of 16 in her Olympic debut. Representing Japan, the #2 player in the world, Naomi Osaka.
- R3 — L — Marketa Vondrousova -42- (CZE) | Score: 1-6, 4-6
- R2 — W — Victorija Golubic -50- (SUI) | Score: 6-3, 6-2 | RECAP
- R1 — W — Saisai Zheng -52- (CHN) | Score: 6-1, 6-4 | RECAP
SUMMER GAMES | Women’s Singles Medalists
Amid COVID concern, the Games go on
Postponed for a year due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games finally launched on Friday, 23 July 2021. After 18-months of lockdowns, desperately trying to contain COVID’s insidious spread, the world finally developed effective vaccines. Sadly, though, 4-million lost their lives, while over 193-million contracted the virus. And Tokyo’s case count was on the rise.
But thanks to science and nearly 2-years of experience, organizers understood that it was entirely possible to responsibly stage the Summer Games without creating a super-spreader event. No fans allowed. Tickets revoked. All international visitors barred from the country – unless competing or working.
From the athlete, to the volunteer, to the Japanese announcer and English announcer — everyone involved with the Games exercised the procedures and protocols painstakingly learned through 18-months of uncertainty and despair. Quarantines. Life in bubbles. Regular hand-hygiene. Masks. Limited long-term indoor exposure to others. And of course, social distancing. But above all else: Most of the Tokyo 2020 team was vaccinated.
Come hell or high water, the Summer Games would go on.
Naomi Osaka ignites the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Cauldron
On a more positive note, one of the most distinguished honors in all of sport is to be asked by your nation to light the Olympic cauldron. Any American over 40 remembers the emotional moment in 1996 when Muhammed Ali courageously climbed the steps to light the flame in Atlanta. His body ravaged by Parkinson’s disease. That singular moment creates indelible memories.
This year, the Japanese Olympic Committee secretly bestowed the honor to 23-year-old Naomi Osaka. Originally scheduled to play the first match on Center Court Saturday morning, it was unusual on Friday to hear that her match had been moved to Sunday. Nothing further was said.
Then, at the conclusion of a subdued, yet deeply respectful opening ceremony and parade of nations – it was Naomi Osaka who climbed the steps and torched the flame that brightly burned over the Games of the 32nd Olympiad. Obviously, it was a humbling honor not lost on the 4-time Grand Slam Champion, who was making her Olympic debut.
Tennis was well represented during the parade of nations as Petra Kvitova (CZE), Jelena Ostapenko (LAT), and Veronica Cepede Royg (PAR) all served as flag-bearers.
Tennis at the Summer Games
While tennis was one of the premier sports featured during the Games’ initial revival, the sport has a contentious history with the Summer Games. It fell off the radar after 1924, mainly due to conflicts between the International Lawn Tennis Federation and the IOC. The two major obstacles:
- Allowing professionals to compete in a global showcase for amature athletics.
- Scheduling. With the Summer Games so close to the conclusion of the Wimbledon Championships, the ILTF and the IOC were in direct competition for tournament participation by the sport’s top-athletes.
After a 60 year absence, tennis and the IOC worked out their differences, and the sport returned as an official event during the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul. Now under the guidance of the International Tennis Federation, professionals are allowed to represent their home nations.