Osaka, Zverev, Tsitsipas: Next-Gen flounder on Wimbledon day one

World No. 2 Naomi Osaka, 21, lost in straight sets and was followed soon after by Alexander Zverev, 22, and Stefanos Tsitsipas, 20.

Clockwise from left: Naomi Osaka, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas fell at the first hurdle at Wimbledon 2019.   -  Getty Images

It was a bloodbath for tennis’s Next-Gen on the opening day of Wimbledon 2019 – world No. 2 Naomi Osaka, 21, lost in straight sets and was followed soon after by Alexander Zverev, 22, and Stefanos Tsitsipas, 20.

Osaka, the reigning US Open and Australian Open champion and the world No. 1 till right before Wimbledon, lost 7-6 (4), 6-2 to Yulia Putintseva, an unseeded Russian who had beaten her 6-2, 6-3 just 10 days ago in the round of 16 at the Birmingham Classic tune-up to the only grass court Grand Slam.

Osaka had struggled at the French Open, too, needing three sets in each of the first two rounds – she was bagelled in her opening set of the tournament – before losing to then world No. 1 doubles player, Kateřina Siniaková, in straight sets.

READ | Out of the spotlight, can Osaka shine again?

Meanwhile, sixth seed Zverev’s Grand Slam lows plugged new depths as the 22-year-old lost in the first round for the first time in five appearances at Wimbledon.

The German world No. 5 won the first set against Jiri Vesely, who’s ranked outside the top 100. The Czech left-hander then took the next three to reach the second round with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 win.

Interesting, Vesely has never lost in the first round in six visits to SW19.

Zverev, the 2018 ATP Tour Finals champion and the most successful of the Next-Gen, has failed to deliver at the four biggest tournaments in the world. His best performance has been the quarterfinals of the French Open in his previous two appearances, ironic considering that clay is his least favourite surface.

READ | Maybe Wimbledon is the tournament for the young guys - Alexander Zverev

The first-round loss for the German 22-year-old – the only man currently playing to have won at least three ATP Masters 1000 titles aside from the Big Four – is his first since the 2016 Australian Open at the age of 19.

Soon after, seventh seed Tsitsipas, who reached the fourth round at SW19 last year, struggled through five sets as he lost to Thomas Fabbiano, an Italian journeyman whose equal-best performance at a Grand Slam was the third round at Wimbledon in 2018.

Tsitsipas came back from a set down twice and even faced two match points in the fourth-set tiebreaker. He won that eventually, but keeled over in the decider as Fabbiano broke him twice in succession from 3-3 to take a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (8), 6-3 win.