NEW YORK — Angelique Kerber left the U.S. Open last year on top of women’s tennis, with a second Grand Slam title and the No. 1 ranking.
She leaves this year after one match, unsure of exactly what went wrong during a season-long slump.
The sixth-seeded German was beaten by Naomi Osaka of Japan 6-3, 6-1, becoming just the second defending women’s champion in the Open era to be eliminated in the first round of the U.S. Open.
“I think, yeah, it was not my day, completely not my day today,” Kerber said.
Not her year, actually.
Kerber also is on her way out of the top 10 after losing one of the only matches that was completed before most of the schedule was washed out on a rainy Tuesday.
Not since Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2005 had the defending U.S. Open women’s champion been ousted so early.
But perhaps it wasn’t too surprising after Kerber played so poorly following her breakthrough 2016, when she also won the Australian Open and lost to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final before ascending to No. 1 with her victory here.
This year, she fell in the first round of the French Open, the first time that had ever happened to the women’s No. 1 seed in that tournament.
She said she had been practicing well and was confident, despite some minor nagging injuries that bothered her throughout the season.
“I’m still the same player and the same person, so I think it’s just yeah, I think it’s just the matches and how I played last year from the…