Osaka withdraws from French Open

Osaka withdraws from French Open

LOS ANGELES • Naomi Osaka, who captured her third Grand Slam title at the US Open last weekend, pulled out of the upcoming French Open with a hamstring injury on Thursday.

“Unfortunately I won’t be able to play the French Open this year,” the Japanese said in posts on Instagram and Twitter.

“My hamstring is still sore, so I won’t have enough time to prepare for the clay – these two tournaments came too close to each other for me this year.”

The French Open is due to start next week at Roland Garros. It was rescheduled from earlier in the year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last Sunday, Osaka rallied from a set down to beat Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the US Open women’s singles final, adding a third Grand Slam trophy after her victories at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open.

The 22-year-old was the first woman to win the US Open singles final from a set down since 1994, and the victory moved her to third in the WTA rankings.

She also became the first Asian player to win three Grand Slams, overtaking China’s Li Na on two.

Osaka had gone into the US Open at Flushing Meadows with fitness concerns.

She pulled out of the Western & Southern Open final with a left hamstring injury just two days before the start of the Grand Slam in New York.

She said she pulled the muscle in her semi-final victory.

Osaka played her US Open matches with her left thigh heavily strapped, but showed no sign that the injury hindered her.

TOO NEAR FOR COMFORT

My hamstring is still sore, so I won’t have enough time to prepare for the clay – these two tournaments came too close to each other for me this year.

NAOMI OSAKA, US Open champion, on why she pulled out of the forthcoming French Open.

The US Open, normally the final Grand Slam of the season, was just the second Major to be played this year after the Australian Open in January. The Covid-19 pandemic saw Wimbledon cancelled and Roland Garros moved from its usual May start to Sept 27-Oct 11.

Unlike the US Open, organisers at Roland Garros will admit fans, although it was announced on Thursday that the number of spectators will be limited to 5,000 a day.

Organisers had originally hoped to accommodate 20,000 spectators a day.

Defending women’s champion Ashleigh Barty of Australia announced earlier this month that she would not defend her title because she feared participation still carried health risks and because she had not been able to train properly with her coach because of the state border closures in Australia.

Osaka’s absence would improve Serena Williams’ chances of winning a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title if the American chooses to play. The 38-year-old has pulled out of the ongoing Italian Open with an Achilles issue.

In the round of 16 in Rome yesterday, Karolina Pliskova beat Anna Blinkova 6-4, 6-3, Simona Halep defeated Dayana Yastremska 7-5, 6-4, while Garbine Muguruza beat Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-1. Victoria Azarenka also advanced after her opponent, Daria Kasatkina, retired.

In the men’s draw, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic survived a scare against fellow Serb Filip Krajinovic.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion had to endure a tiebreak before winning 7-6 (9-7), 6-3.

The top seed is warming up on clay in Rome for the French Open, a tournament he claimed in 2016.

Djokovic – unbeaten this season before being disqualified from the US Open – double faulted on the first of his three set points in the tiebreak but a quick break in the second set put him through in a tournament he has won four times.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

ITALIAN OPEN

Q-finals: Men (StarHub Ch211), women (Ch201), 6pm.