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Naomi Osaka Is Out in First Spherical of the French Open

Seen objectively, Osaka’s loss to Anisimova was no upset. Osaka, a former no. 1 from Japan, is without doubt one of the largest stars in sports activities and the highest-paid feminine athlete on this planet by a big margin. However she has not been a dominant drive on tour for properly over a yr now and has by no means been a dominant drive on the French Open’s clay floor.

For now, she stays a one-surface marvel. All 4 of Osaka’s Grand Slam singles titles have been gained on hardcourts: two on the Australian Open and two on the US Open. She has by no means even reached the ultimate of a clay-court occasion on tour and has by no means been previous the third spherical of the French Open. Her profession file in singles on hardcourts is 133-56, however on clay it’s 21-17 and on grass simply 11-9. She mentioned afterward that she was leaning towards not enjoying subsequent month at Wimbledon, which is performed on grass courts, now that the WTA Tour had stripped the occasion of rating factors in response to Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian gamers.

“I really feel like if I play Wimbledon with out factors, it is extra like an exhibition,” Osaka mentioned. “I do know this is not true, proper? However my mind simply seems like that method. Every time I believe like one thing is like an exhibition, I simply can’t go at it 100%.”

Final yr, struggling on and off courtroom, she withdrew earlier than the second spherical of the French Open due to a standoff with match officers over her refusal to look at obligatory post-match information conferences. She cited her psychological well being as the explanation for skipping them for so long as she was within the match however didn’t interact with match officers immediately earlier than saying her determination or within the aftermath once they sought additional rationalization. Confronted with a scarcity of background, they fined her $15,000 for lacking her first-round information convention and made it clear that she risked being defaulted from the match and future Grand Slam tournaments if she continued to refuse to adjust to the media necessities.

It was a surprisingly onerous line, and Osaka selected to withdraw reasonably than escalate the state of affairs, revealing as she introduced her withdrawal through social media that she had skilled lengthy bouts of melancholy since profitable her first main title on the 2018 US Open.

L’Affaire Osaka at Roland Garros sparked a large debate on psychological well being points in sports activities and has led to the ladies’s tour offering much more psychological well being assets for its gamers on and off web site. Osaka has mentioned that she want to have dealt with the state of affairs otherwise. The French Open has modified a few of its management, with the longtime match director Man Overlook changed this yr by Amélie Mauresmo, a former No. 1 participant on the ladies’s tour who has made gamers’ psychological well being a precedence. Underneath her management, the French Open has lowered entry to participant areas for reporters this yr. The match is also offering psychological well being specialists on web site to help gamers.

Mauresmo made an effort to greet Osaka on and off courtroom when she returned to Roland Garros this yr. Osaka arrived unseeded and having performed simply two singles matches on clay all yr after withdrawing from the Italian Open this month due to her left Achilles’ tendon harm.

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