1 minute read
29 Aug 2020
5:07 pm

Injured Osaka hands title to Azarenka in New York


Japan's Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from Saturday's Western and Southern Open final due to a left hamstring injury, meaning Victoria Azarenka takes the title by walkover.

Naomi Osaka in action earlier in the week at the Western and Southern Open. Picture: Getty Images

“I pulled my left hamstring yesterday in the second set tiebreak and it has not recovered overnight as I had hoped.”

Osaka had defeated Belgium’s Elise Mertens in the semi-final to set up the championship match against two-time Australian Open winner Azarenka, from Belarus, in the same New York Covid-19 quarantine bubble where the US Open begins on Monday.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Osaka, of Haitian and Japanese heritage, had threatened not to play in the semi-finals to protest the police shooting of African-American Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Osaka said she was “sick to her stomach” and “exhausted” by repeated violence against blacks by US police, echoing a move by the NBA Milwaukee Bucks in boycotting a playoff game for the same reason.

Osaka’s decision prompted the WTA and ATP to postpone all semi-final matches to Friday, which inspired Osaka to change her mind and play, although she was worried other delayed players would be upset.

“This has been an emotional week and I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support,” Osaka said.

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