Tennis

Former champion Naomi Osaka withdraws from Australian Open

Reuters
Former champion Naomi Osaka withdraws from Australian Open

Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 17, 2022 Japan's Naomi Osaka celebrates after winning her first round match against Colombia's Camila Osorio REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters

The withdrawal of former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka comes as a double blow for the Australian Open as seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams also pulled out a day earlier

Two-time champion Naomi Osaka has pulled out of the Australian Open, organizers of the season’s first Grand Slam which begins on January 16 announced on Sunday, January 8, without elaborating on the reason.

The Japanese former world No. 1’s name was on the entry list for the Australian Open but Osaka was not scheduled to play in warm-up tournaments in Adelaide and Hobart, raising doubts about her participation in the hardcourt major.

“Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the Australian Open. We will miss her at #AO2023,” the Australian Open tweeted. “Dayana Yastremska moves into the main draw.”

Osaka, the 2019 and 2021 Melbourne Park champion, has not played on the WTA Tour since pulling out of her match against Beatriz Haddad Maia in the Pan Pacific Open second round in Tokyo in September due to illness.

Her withdrawal marks a double blow for Australian Open organizers a day after American seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams was ruled out due to injury.

Osaka, who has slipped to 42 in the world rankings, had taken a break to prioritize her mental health after skipping the 2021 French Open and later said that she was battling depression.

The four-time major champion is one of the highest-earning women athletes in the world, according to Forbes, with a growing business portfolio, but her latest pullout is likely to further fuel speculation about whether she will continue her playing career.

The Australian Open was already short of some of its star players following the retirements of Serena Williams and Roger Federer last year and the withdrawal of men’s world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz due to injury.

Simona Halep, the 2018 runner-up, is also absent after being provisionally suspended in October for failing a drug test. – Rappler.com

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